Kabul airport reopens for aid and domestic services

DUBAI – Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed some flights in Afghanistan between Kabul and three major provincial cities on Saturday, the airline said after a technical team from Qatar reopened the capital’s airport for relief and domestic services.

Flights between Kabul and the western city of Herat, Mazar-i Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south have started, the airline said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“Ariana Afghan Airlines is proud to resume domestic flights,” it said.

Earlier, Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport for assistance, news channel Al Jazeera said.

The airport runway had been repaired in cooperation with the authorities in Afghanistan, said Ambassador Al Jazeera in a further small step towards a return to relative normality after the turmoil of the past three weeks.

The reopening of the airport, a vital lifeline both for the outside world and for the entire mountainous region of Afghanistan, is a high priority for the Taliban as they want to restore order after their lightning capture of Kabul on August 15.

Kabul airport has been closed since the end of the massive US-led airlift of its citizens, other Western nationals, and Afghans who helped Western countries. The end of this evacuation of tens of thousands of people marked the withdrawal of the last US forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

Thousands of people who wanted to leave Afghanistan for fear of life under Taliban rule were left behind when the evacuation operation ended in late August.

The Taliban, the adversary of the West in the two decades of war that followed the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, have promised safe passage to those wishing to leave the country.

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