An heartbreaking photo showed more than 600 Afghans – women, men, children and the elderly – sitting packed on the floor of a cavernous US military plane, part of a dramatic airlift hours after Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The now-viral image, obtained and posted by the respected military news site Defense One, was taken inside a US Air Force C-17 transport.
The Afghans crammed in the giant cargo hold on the Sunday night flight were among those approved for evacuation by US authorities, according to the site.
The US military said about 640 Afghans were on board.
The Taliban have meanwhile declared the war in Afghanistan over and a senior leader said the group would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a new governance structure.
Many Afghans are worried about their country’s future under a return to Taliban leadership.The Taliban completed its lightning advance across Afghanistan after it stormed the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, all but sealing its takeover of the country.
Thousands of Afghans are also trying to leave, as another refugee crisis beckons.
The Taliban has declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government, trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as thousands mobbed the city’s international airport in a desperate attempt to flee.