Ottawa, Aug 20 (IANS) The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have resumed flights to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.
In a statement on Thursday, Trudeau said that CAF assets and personnel have arrived on the ground in Afghanistan to coordinate at the tactical level with the US and other allied partners, helping “get Canadians, Afghans and their families to safety”, reports Xinhua news agency.
Trudeau said two CAF CC-177 planes will make regular flights into Kabul to support evacuation efforts.
“Canada has personnel on the ground now and we’ll have more personnel arriving later today to help with the processing,” he said, adding the images out of Kabul have been heartbreaking and that government remains committed to helping hundreds of Afghans who helped Canada.
Those Afghans include former interpreters and support staff as well as their families who are now at risk of Taliban arrest or worse for having worked with the Canadian military and other organisations after the insurgents took over the country, CTV News reported.
Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said on Thursday that the C-17s have been reconfigured to maximise the number of passengers they can carry and have begun to fly in and out of Kabul.
“Our CAF teams will be given a list of vetted and vulnerable individuals, and will be assisting those individuals onto flights,” Lamirande added.
“These flights can be expected to have foreign and Afghan nationals who have been accepted under the immigration programs of other nations. In turn, other nations have, and will continue to, extract Canadian citizens or Afghans who are destined for (or eligible for immigration to) Canada.”
“Canadian Armed Forces flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport will resume shortly under Op AEGIS,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a tweet on Wednesday night.
Operation Aegis is designed for the military to help with evacuation efforts in Afghanistan.