Battle erupts at Kabul airport amid evacuation effort

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Further fighting broke out at Hamid Karzai International Airport involving Afghan, US and German forces on August 23, 2021. 

The German army reported that a gun battle between the Afghan security forces and unknown assailants had taken place early morning on August 23, 2021, by the North Gate of the airport. 

“An Afghan security officer was killed, three were injured,” the Bundeswehr said in a social media post. “US and German troops later took part in the battle. No Bundeswehr soldiers were injured.”

The airport has been the focus of efforts to evacuate foreign citizens and others at risk since the Taliban seized control of the capital a week ago. 

On August 20, 2021, the German Ministry of Defense deployed two Airbus H145M helicopters of the Special Forces Command (KSK) to transport people in danger who cannot reach the airport on their own.

After initial criticism, the United States is ramping up evacuation efforts

The US Department of Defense activated Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet on August 22, 2021. It involves six commercial airlines providing 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines. 

The carriers themselves do not fly to KBL. 

Instead, the US military will continue to pick passengers up from Kabul and bring them to more secure locations, where the commercial airlines will pick them up. 

Data from FlightRadar24 showed 12 US heavy lift aircraft operating on the morning of August 23, 2021.

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said it would be ready to deploy three widebody aircraft on August 23, 2021, to military bases and other transit points on the Arabian peninsula and in Europe.  

“The images from Afghanistan are heartbreaking,” American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) comments in a statement. “The airline is proud and grateful of our pilots and flight attendants, who will be operating these trips to be a part of this life-saving effort.”

American said it would look to minimize the impact on customers from removing the aircraft from its schedule. 

US airlines have already been battling to meet a surge in demand this summer after COVID-19 restrictions eased. 

“The Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation,” the Pentagon noted. 

It is the third time the CRAF has been activated. The first was to support Operations Desert Shield and Storm from August 1990 to May 1991, and the second was for Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2002 to June 2003.  

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