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The first plane to evacuate Spaniards and Afghan collaborators arrives in Kabul

The Spanish Army's A400M aircraft arrived on Wednesday at midday with a group of soldiers ready to complete the departure of personnel from Afghanistan and has already taken off from the Afghan capital to return with the first evacuees
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This Wednesday at midday, the A400M aircraft of the Spanish Armed Forces landed in Kabul with the mission of carrying out the difficult evacuation from Afghanistan of the Spanish citizens present in the Asian country and of the local Afghan collaborators who have worked for the Spanish nation on the ground.

A detachment of Spanish military experts in difficult evacuations has travelled in the A440M aircraft, in view of the complicated scenario presented by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of international troops. Tension has been mounting over the last few hours following the Taliban's rapid advance, which led to the insurgents' entry into Kabul to complete the transfer of power and establish a government that may even strictly apply Islamic law.

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The team that makes up the detachment is made up of a group of soldiers from the Army's CIMIC battalion and the Air Force's Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA), which will be in charge of the operation to evacuate the Spaniards and the Afghans and their families who have been collaborating with Spain for years. According to the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, the mission of the personnel travelling on these flights is to "respond to the difficult conditions of the evacuation", as reported by the media El Diario.

The plane departed at 11 a.m. Spanish time from the Al-Minhad base in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, after arriving there from the Zaragoza Air Base in Spain. It finally arrived in Kabul at one o'clock noon, as confirmed by the Spanish Ministry of Defence, and has now been confirmed to be taking off from Kabul airport to begin its return journey.

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After receiving the relevant flight clearance from the US Army, which oversees departures from Kabul airport, the plane headed for the Afghan capital via Pakistan.

Defence sources have not confirmed how many people are on the plane, and whether it will return directly to Spain or return to Dubai and from there to Spain, as reported by the newspaper La Vanguardia. For the moment, it has been confirmed that the plane has left Kabul airport to return.

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The staff of the Spanish embassy in Kabul had been ready at Kabul airport since Sunday, while the Afghan workers had been told to be prepared for when they would be summoned to the airport.

Now, the objective is to get the Spanish citizens out of the country along with Afghan collaborators, not an easy situation considering the tense situation at Kabul airport, as evidenced by the Dantesque images that have been seen in the last few hours with many desperate people trying to cling to planes at the Afghan capital's airfield.

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The A400Ms can hold around 140 occupants, but the number of people who can be on board will depend on the number of people on the lists who are in the security zone at Kabul airport in the short period of time that the planes are allowed to land, load and take off.

A second A400M aircraft is already on standby in Dubai to take part in the same operation and is due to arrive in Afghanistan this Friday.

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Together with them, and as announced today by the President of the Government Pedro Sánchez, a third medical aircraft of the Armed Forces, which has departed from the Torrejón de Ardoz air base, will also head to Kabul to take part in the repatriation mission.

According to information from the newspaper La Vanguardia, the acting ambassador to Afghanistan, Gabriel Ferran, who left his post on 5 August, did not board the army plane that left for Kabul on Wednesday. He will remain in Kabul to coordinate the return of the people under Spanish responsibility. The new ambassador, Ricardo Losa, was scheduled to travel to the Afghan capital this week.