US Expects Immediate Relocation of Fleeing Afghan Pilot to Tajikistan

The United States (US) hopes to relocate some 150 US-trained Afghan Air Force pilots soon. The superpower also hopes to relocate other personnel held in Tajikistan for more than two months after they flew there at the end of the Afghanistan war, a US official said.

The State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to give a timeline for the relocation, but said the US wanted to move all those detained at the same time.

Reuters exclusively reports that 143 US-trained Afghan personnel are being held in a sanatorium in a mountainous rural area outside the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. They wait for US flights to the country to finally settle in the US.

Afghan pilots prepare to fly.  (Photo: Reuters)

Afghan pilots prepare to fly. (Photo: Reuters)

There are also 13 Afghan personnel in Dushanbe in much more relaxed conditions. They told Reuters they were also awaiting US relocation. They flew to the country separately.

In September, a US-brokered deal allowed a large group of Afghan pilots and other military personnel to be flown from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.

Two Afghan pilots detained in Tajikistan said their hopes were buoyant in recent days following a visit by officials from the US embassy in Dushanbe.

Although they said they had not given a departure date, the pilot said US officials obtained the biometric data needed to complete the process of identifying Afghans. It was the last step before the departure of the Afghan pilot in Uzbekistan

Reuters previously reported US difficulties in gaining access to all Afghans in Tajikistan, including an Afghan Air Force pilot who is eight months pregnant. [ah/rs]

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