KABUL, Afghanistan — The British military says seven Afghan civilians have been killed in a panicked crush of people trying to enter Kabul’s international airport, and the Pentagon said Sunday that it is formally seeking airlift help from commercial airlines to relocate evacuees from Afghanistan once they have gotten out of their country.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has activated the initial stage of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, asking for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation.
According to Kirby, those aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. They will be used to move passengers from way stations once they leave Kabul, allowing the U.S. military to focus on the Afghanistan portion of the evacuation.
The deaths happened amid the chaos of those fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country. It was just the latest deadly incident at the airport last week as thousands attempt to escape the country.
Last Monday, another seven people were killed in similar incidents. Videoes showed hundreds rushing the tarmac on the airport as some clung to the fuselage of U.S. Air Force Planes.
Meanwhile, a group of fighters opposing the Taliban’s rule battle Sunday against the insurgents in the mountains and valleys to the north of Kabul, capturing several rural districts.
While details of the fighting remain unclear, it marks the first organized resistance to rise up against the Taliban since they blitzed across the country in under a week to seize the majority of the country and its capital.