The Taliban picks up a flashlight from the hangar floor. He showed it to the journalist. “Go? It’s broken. It is a flashlight that is not worth more than two dollars. And they have broken it before leaving. The entire airport is destroyed, ”he explains, pointing to the rest of the airfield. And he adds: “They have only left garbage.”
A day after the last American soldier had left Afghanistan, the Taliban allowed the press to pass the airport to see the facilities and incidentally denounce that, in its withdrawal, the US Army had carried out the scorched earth tactic. disabling everything. The Taliban with the lantern comments on this in a huge hangar in which there are several destroyed planes, parked among hundreds of soldiers’ helmets, backpacks, cartridges and bulletproof vests left there by the US military. “Many of these things could have been used by the Afghan people, ”he complains.
On the runways, the journalists came across helicopters from the Afghan Air Force that were also disabled or private vehicles used by the military and left to their own devices. Many of them were not even approached by the Taliban or journalists were allowed to approach, claiming that they could hide time-delay bombs inside that could explode when the engine was started.
The international community has called on the Taliban to open the Kabul airport as soon as possible so that the thousands or tens of thousands of people who now believe their lives are in danger can leave the country. But, judging by the state of the airport – and the complaints from the Taliban – the airfield will not be able to operate again overnight.
Both Turkey and Qatar are negotiating with the extremists to manage the airfield. Some of the civilian experts in charge of running this complex infrastructure have fled and the Taliban lack the qualified personnel to run it. In addition, the Islamists denounce that essential elements such as the control tower do not work, since the US military disabled it before leaving. On the outside it appears intact, without a trace of bombings or shots. Inside, according to the Taliban, the operating system has been destroyed.
Entering the airport through the North Gate, which until the last moment was controlled by the Americans, means at the moment crossing several Taliban checkpoints. Afterwards, a drive through the interior of the airfield is a succession of damaged military vehicles, when not burned. The airport, meanwhile, is silent and empty. Sometimes you see the Taliban cycling back and forth or killing time by spending a huge squad of plastic at a checkpoint.
Through the main door, the so-called Abbey, the one that served in its time to access the corridors and lobbies of the commercial flight companies, the spectacle is just as bleak. This is the door in which a terrorist committed suicide on Thursday 27, killing dozens of people.
Now, going in there is something spooky about it. Not only because of the silence that floats throughout the immense facility. When you arrive at what until a month ago were the boarding gates, you can see the floor full of suitcases, clothes and bags belonging to the people who had to leave urgently. There are also hundreds of suitcases and bags on the slopes that testify that those who fled from the Taliban did so with what they were wearing.
Before accessing the tracks, there are overturned military cars and vans, forming a barricade. It is proof that the US military feared a frontal attack by the Taliban starting from the main gate of the airport. Inside the runways are commercial jets of the Afghan commercial airline Ariana Airlines, apparently in good use. Also there, in the middle of a runway, is the portable ladder that was immortalized in the first days of chaos at the Kabul airport when it was full of people struggling to access a plane leaving Kabul. Now, in the middle of the track, it is full of clothes and garbage.
Meanwhile, a Qatari technical team is already operating at the Afghan airport, reported the Al-Jazeera chain yesterday, citing an official source related to civil aviation. At the moment, this team is in charge of calibrating the extent to which the aerodrome facilities are damaged. The first domestic flights will begin today and the international ones “will take their time,” adds the same source.
On the other hand, the US authorities have confirmed the poor condition of the airport facilities, without specifying damage or deterioration in basic areas for their operation such as air traffic control towers, reports Maria Antonia Sánchez-Vallejo from New York.
However, a pilot contacted by the France Presse agency refers to the degradation of the passenger terminal devastated by the traffic of thousands of people since August 14 and that the boarding lounges, the control towers and the different runways would be damaged but still operational.