Senior US Senate staffers were working with Pentagon officials Sunday night to help Afghan pilots who had fled the country and landed in Uzbekistan, where US officials feared they could be turned over to the Taliban, according to a US Senate source.
Senate staffers were also trying to deal with State Department officials, who are already overwhelmed with the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the source said.
With Taliban taking control of Afghanistan, more than a dozen Afghan pilots have fled the country on aircraft. The countries that border Afghanistan are grappling with the Taliban takeover and must decide how to deal with Afghans fleeing into their countries.
CNN obtained documentation showing identification of the pilots, whom the US is seeking to protect, but is not sharing the information publicly.
CNN has reached out to the Defense Department and State Department for comment.
What Uzbekistan is saying: Uzbekistan said it detained 84 people from the Afghan Armed Forces at the two countries’ shared border Saturday.
The group of Afghan military personnel did not resist when they were detained by Uzbekistan’s State Security Service, according to a statement from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry published Monday. They asked for help and medical assistance for three people that were wounded.
“The necessary screening procedures and sanitary and epidemiological measures were carried out with these Afghan citizens, medical assistance was provided to some, food and their temporary accommodation were organized as well,” the Uzbek Foreign Ministry statement read.
The ministry said that there was “a growing presence” of Afghan military forces seen on the Afghan side of the Termez-Hairaton bridge, which connects the town of Hairatan in the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan with Termez in the Surxondaryo region of Uzbekistan.
“Measures are being taken to provide humanitarian assistance to these persons,” the ministry said.
The ministry said it was negotiating with Afghan officials on the return of its citizens, though it did not specify if conversations were being held with the Taliban or the Afghan government that has just collapsed.
All commercial flights out of Kabul’s main airport have been canceled