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Biden administration is ‘indirectly paying a Taliban-controlled airline to help Afghans flee’ 

The US is indirectly paying an airline controlled by the Taliban to fly out Afghans in search of safety, according to a new report, following the chaotic departure of US troops last year.

Washington is committed to helping save Afghans who have aided US troops or who fear for their lives after working for the former government.

But with no diplomatic representation in the country, it depends on Qatar, which has relations with the Taliban, to make arrangements to fly Afghans out of the country en route to the US.

Four sources told NBC News that Qatar buys airline tickets in bulk from Ariana Afghan Airlines, the country’s state airline.

The airline flies to Doha twice a week, with tickets costing about $480 per seat.

The US is indirectly paying an airline controlled by the Taliban to fly refugees out of Afghanistan, it turned out Thursday

The US is indirectly paying an airline controlled by the Taliban to fly refugees out of Afghanistan, it turned out Thursday

The Taliban's rapid advance as US forces withdrew last year sparked a chaotic operation to help vulnerable Afghans find safety

The Taliban’s rapid advance as US forces withdrew last year sparked a chaotic operation to help vulnerable Afghans find safety

From there, the US arranges further flights.

Any suggestion that US taxpayers’ money goes to the Taliban will embarrass the Biden administration, which has refused to recognize the new government in Kabul.

The Taliban suspended refugee flights in January, reportedly angry at how they have been characterized as evacuation flights. But some 2,500 Afghans bound for the US have reportedly fled since flights resumed two months ago.

“The United States remains committed to supporting American citizens, lawful permanent residents and our Afghan allies and their families who are eligible to move to the United States,” a State Department spokesman said.

“This is an ongoing effort and the State Department continues to support travel for these individuals from Afghanistan at this time.”

Refugee advocates say about 160,000 Afghans are trying to resettle in the US because of their previous work.

The US and allies managed to fly tens of thousands of people away.  But tens of thousands more want to leave because of their ties to the US government

The US and allies managed to fly tens of thousands of people away. But tens of thousands more want to leave because of their ties to the US government

Thousands more are eligible for refugee programs because of their ties to US-backed charities or media organizations.

The departure of US troops last August sparked the chaotic flight of tens of thousands of Afghans fearing retaliation from the Taliban.

Families descended on the airport amid chaos after the insurgents took the capital with barely a fight.

Military planes and charters carried more than 70,000 out of the country in a frenzy before the last American troops left the country at the end of the month.

Footage of desperate Afghans falling from US planes as they took in fueled widespread anger that the Biden administration had botched the withdrawal and officials had failed to ensure the safety of its allies in the country.

Officials repeatedly said they could not foresee the collapse of the government in Kabul and the Taliban takeover.

But a damning report from the watchdog last month said it was the decisions of successive governments that laid the groundwork for the disaster.

The biggest factors in the rapid collapse of the Afghan armed forces were the Trump administration’s deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops and contractors from the country, followed by Joe Biden’s announcement that he would withdraw all US troops, according to a damning watchdog report.

The rapid advance of Taliban fighters surprised the US military and intelligence services.  However, in his report, the inspector general said the collapse of the Afghan armed forces should have been predicted once US aid was withdrawn.

The rapid advance of Taliban fighters surprised the US military and intelligence services. However, in his report, the inspector general said the collapse of the Afghan armed forces should have been predicted once US aid was withdrawn.

Taliban fighters from the Fateh Weak unit celebrated before storming into Kabul International Airport after US troops left, securing their hold on the country

Taliban fighters from the Fateh Weak unit celebrated before storming into Kabul International Airport after US troops left, securing their hold on the country

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that Afghan armed forces were built to respond to US air forces, as well as contractors to maintain advanced weapons.

Making a deal with the Taliban to withdraw, John Sopko wrote, set in motion the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

The major short-term factor in the ANDSF’s collapse was the US decision to withdraw US military and contractors from Afghanistan through the US-Taliban agreement signed in February 2020 under the Trump administration and confirmed by President Biden in April 2021 address to the nation,” he wrote in a report published Tuesday.

“Many Afghans believed that the US-Taliban agreement was an act of bad faith and a signal that the US was handing over Afghanistan to the enemy as they rushed out of the country; the immediate effect was a dramatic loss in ANDSF’s morale.”

President Biden announced last April that he would be bringing US troops home in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

He said the war in Afghanistan must end after two decades of war that had cost American lives, depleted resources and diverted from more important priorities.

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