A US Air Force C-17 Globemaster flew a record 823 Afghan civilians out of the Kabul airport on a single flight earlier this week, believed to be the largest number of people ever carried on one of the giant aircraft, Air Mobility Command (AMC) said on Friday.
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“[A] US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 15, 2021,” AMC announced in a tweet. “This is a record for this aircraft.”
Earlier reports said the C-17 had carried out 640 civilians but that only listed the adults on board, and did not include the 183 children who were also on the flight and were carried on the laps of adults, AMC said.
The Department of Defense is aiming to fly 20-30 evacuation airlifts a day, which would airlift approximately 5,000 people out of Afghanistan daily.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Qatari counterpart during a meeting discussed the transit of American civilians and embassy personnel from Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a readout.
The call comes as the US is evacuating citizens and Afghan refugees from Kabul in the wake of Sunday’s Taliban takeover. The United States and Qatar reportedly were finalizing an agreement to temporarily house some 8,000 Afghan nationals who worked with the US military, including 1,000 due to arrive soon.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met today with Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah,” Kirby said on Thursday. “Secretary Austin… offered deep gratitude to Minister Al-Attiyah for Qatar’s help in facilitating the transit of US citizens and Embassy Kabul personnel out of Afghanistan through Qatar.”
The US military footprint in Kabul is now more than 5,200 total troops on the ground, US Army Major General William Taylor earlier in the day.
According to US defense officials, at least 22,000 Afghan refugees will soon be housed at two additional US military bases, including Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.