First post-evacuation flight takes off from Kabul

The first international commercial flight since the end of the chaotic Western airlift from Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops departed from Kabul airport on Thursday.

Al Jazeera television reported that a large group of foreigners were aboard the Doha-bound flight.

A U.S. official had said earlier that 200 foreigners in Afghanistan, Americans among them, were set to depart on charter flights from Kabul on Thursday after the new Taliban government agreed to their evacuation.

Although international flights have gone in and out with officials, technicians and aid, this was the first civilian flight since the evacuation that followed the Taliban's takeover of the capital on Aug. 15 as foreign military forces pulled out.

Qatar's foreign minister thanked the Taliban for helping reopen the airport. Qatari and Turkish technical teams had also worked to restore operations at the airport.

It marked an important step in the Islamist militant group's efforts to bring some kind of normalcy back to the country, which is facing economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said about 100 U.S. citizens were still in Afghanistan but that not all necessarily wanted to leave now, adding that some may have family in the country or other reasons for not departing yet.

Thursday's flight came two days after the Taliban announced an interim government made up of mainly ethnic Pashtun men, including Islamist hardliners and some wanted by the United States on terrorism charges.

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