The U.S. military temporarily paused evacuation flights from Kabul on Friday after an Air Force base in Qatar ran out of capacity to house Afghans, multiple news outlets reported, slowing down a frantic effort to fly thousands of people from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Evacuation flights stopped taking off Friday from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport because Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar — which the Pentagon is using as an intermediate point for Afghan visa applicants looking to reach the United States — is approaching its capacity, according to CNN, Reuters and CBS News.
The military plans to start sending Afghan evacuees to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, CNN reported, though Reuters and CBS say some flights could head to Bahrain, another Persian Gulf country with a large U.S. military presence.
The Pentagon and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Forbes.
The Taliban took over Kabul and toppled the Afghan government last weekend. This quicker-than-expected takeover interrupted the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and hampered an effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghans who assisted the U.S. military and could face retribution. The military sent thousands of troops back to Kabul to secure the airport and has evacuated thousands of Americans and Afghans so far, but the State Department is still trying to process Afghans, and the Taliban has reportedly set up checkpoints outside the airport and violently blocked some people from entering. Flights were also briefly paused earlier this week because scores of Afghans hoping to flee the country ran onto the airport tarmac, tried to board planes and grabbed onto departing military jets.
What To Watch For
Biden ordered all U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan by Aug. 31 earlier this year, but he told ABC News this week he may extend the deadline and keep occupying Kabul’s airport if all Americans can’t be evacuated by that time.