Spanish nationals, embassy staff and Afghan employees awaiting evacuation in Kabul airport

Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced on Monday the operation would take place “as soon as possible.” Two A400M aircraft are due to be sent to Dubai for this purpose

Afghans gather outside Kabul airport on Monday while US soldiers stand guard.Video: SHAKIB RAHMANI (AFP) / TWITTER
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Taliban fighters stand guard along a roadside near the Zanbaq Square in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar / AFP)
In photos: The advance of the Taliban (Spanish captions)
First military plane due to repatriate Spanish nationals from Afghanistan takes off from Zaragoza

Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced on Monday that Spanish nationals, embassy staff and Afghans who worked with the country’s armed forces and civilian missions in Kabul have now been moved to the airport in the capital of Afghanistan, where they are waiting to be evacuated “as soon as possible.” Among this personnel, are members of the GEO special forces group that guards the Spanish embassy in Kabul, a city that has now been overrun by Taliban forces. “The airport is a safe place for our countrymen,” said Grande-Marlaska this morning during an interview with the Cadena SER radio network.

Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has sped up the evacuation plans for Spanish nationals, embassy staff and Afghans who have worked with the former due to the swift advance of the Taliban, who began their assault on the capital on Sunday. Two A400M planes were due today to leave Spain headed for Dubai in order to cover the first phase of the repatriation process, according to a statement released by both the Foreign Affairs and Defense ministries on Sunday night.

The plans were changed on Sunday as the day progressed. Defense Ministry sources had already indicated that they were preparing a military transport plane in Kuwait in order to be ready to enter Kabul airport as quickly as possible. A bottleneck is expected to form at the airport. In the end, the decision was made to send the two A400Ms to the United Arab Emirates. The initial plan, which has now been accelerated, was to carry out the evacuation via four flights on these military plans and another on a civil flight, provided the conditions permitted. The evacuation of around 500 to 600 people is being planned.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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