AFGHANISTAN – The evacuation of French nationals from Afghanistan continues. The day after Emmanuel Macron’s speech, the Ministry of Defense, Florence Parly, as a guest on RTL this Tuesday, August 17, gave new information on the ongoing operations.
The minister pointed out in particular that the first plane to evacuate French and some Afghans from Kabul, which fell into Taliban hands, arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday morning “after a very chaotic situation at the end of yesterday “. At Kabul Airport, a first plane could land and then depart and arrive at a French base in the Emirates “at the end of the night,” she said
With this first flight, “we laid the foundation for an air bridge between Kabul and the United Arab Emirates,” where France has a military base at Al Dhafra Air Base 104.
An Airbus A310 also took off from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and is expected at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle Airport on Tuesday afternoon, with 45 French nationals and partner countries deported from Kabul on board, French authorities the Ministry of the Armed Forces said AFP.
That first aircraft, an A400M military transporter, left France for the Emirates on Monday and brought French special forces to Kabul to take part in the evacuation of several dozen French and some Afghans.
“We are now seeing a detachment of French special forces arriving who will help secure the airport (…) and allow the embarkation and evacuation of French nationals, Community nationals and Afghan figures that we intend to use in future days,” said the French ambassador David Martinon of the AFP news agency in Kabul before the plane took off.
This first flight also embarked “the Gurkhas of the French embassy, who are these elite Indian and Nepalese soldiers returning home with their mission accomplished,” he specified.
However, Florence Parly mentioned the difficulties faced by people who have to be evacuated simply to reach the airport: “We are facing a logistical difficulty that allows these people to reach the airport. Which is a real challenge today because there are roadblocks, checkpoints that are controlled by the Taliban around the airport.”
Neither Florence Parly nor any source interviewed by AFP said exactly how many people were on board that first plane, when those bound for France will leave the Emirates, nor how many people across France will exfiltrate as part of this operation named Apagan, which mobilizes two Air Force aircraft on the Emirates-Kabul leg and two others for flights between the Emirates and France.
“This operation could not be carried out without the strong support of the United Arab Emirates,” the minister commended, saying it was “a bit early” to give “a figure for sure” on the total number of people who will be repatriated.
See also on The HuffPost: Kabul Airport is stormed after Taliban arrival