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More than 200 Afghans land in Washington as US starts evacuating its allies from war-torn nation – media

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The first flight of Afghans who worked alongside American troops during the protracted war in their homeland has arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport as the US commences Operation Allies Refuge.

On Friday, a flight carrying 221 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 babies, according to an internal document obtained by the Associated Press, touched down in Washington. According to tracking by FlightAware, the commercial airliner touched down in the early hours of Friday morning.

Unverified footage from the Association of Wartime Allies appears to show the flight landing.

Friday’s arrival is the first evacuation flight to take place as part of an operation dubbed “Allies Refuge.” According to the Associated Press, those on it included former translators and others who worked alongside the US forces in Afghanistan but now fear retaliation, as well as their families.

Earlier this month, US officials said the Afghans would probably stay at the US Army’s garrison Fort Lee, in Virginia, for several days. Further efforts to airlift Afghan allies to the US have already won approval and cleared security screening.

On Thursday, an emergency bill was passed by the Senate 98-0 to allow for further rapid evacuation efforts, including 8,000 expedited visas and the allocation of $500 million for transportation and housing.

With the Pentagon’s drawdown in Afghanistan almost complete, concern has grown for those who worked alongside the US during the protracted conflict. The Taliban claims it has regained most of the country’s territory in recent months, as it looks to reassert its authority.