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Turkmenistan Opens Airspace for Evacuation Flights from Afghanistan

By Orkhan Jalilov August 20, 2021

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Foreign states started evacuating their citizens and employees of diplomatic missions on August 15, when the Taliban militant group took control of Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul. / Travel Daily News

Turkmenistan has opened its airspace for evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry’s press service said on Thursday.

The move comes as some countries are evacuating their citizens and local staff from the Afghan capital, Kabul after the Taliban entered the city on Sunday.

“As it is known, currently, a number of countries have begun to evacuate their citizens who are present in Afghanistan,” the Turkmen ministry’s statement reads.

“In this respect, Turkmenistan fulfilling its international obligations, including those originating from the international humanitarian law, provides its airspace for the transportation of the abovementioned category of persons by the aircraft of foreign states.” 

Foreign states started evacuating their citizens and employees of diplomatic missions on August 15, when the Taliban militant group took control of Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry said earlier that its embassy in Kabul, as well as the Consulates General in the cities of Herat and Mazar-i Sharif, were continuing to function in the regular mode. At the same time, the Taliban representatives have been guarding the outside perimeter of the Turkmen embassy and consulates general. No attempt has been made to reduce the staff members or partially evacuate the employees of the diplomatic mission and the consular entities.

Turkmenistan shares an 800-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan. The check-points on the Turkmen-Afghan border “Ymamnazar-Akina” and “Serhetabad-Torghundi” operate in the regular mode and provide the passing of the necessary number of automobile trailers and railway carriages under the order agreed by both sides.

The country, however, does not allow Afghan military and ethnic Turkmen fleeing Afghanistan to cross its borders.

The Taliban entered Kabul last week without any resistance and established full control over the Afghan capital within several hours. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has left the country, while the country’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared himself as the country’s caretaker president, calling for armed resistance to the Taliban.

Chaos erupted at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as thousands of people rushed to leave the country, some of them climbing onto US jets as the aircraft took off.

The Taliban offensive began months ago and accelerated amid the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan that started on May 1. US President Joe Biden said on July 8 that the military mission in the country would conclude on August 31.

In mid-July, Turkmenistan started moving heavy weaponry and aircraft closer to its border with Afghanistan after security deteriorated in the neighboring country.