Afghan Military Pilots, on the Run, Feel Abandoned by U.S.

Speaking from Afghanistan, several Afghan Air Force pilots described moving from house to house to avoid capture by the Taliban. They said they were running out of money and did not dare look for work because they feared being discovered by Taliban officials.

An Afghan Air Force major who flew C-208 planes for eight years said the Taliban had confronted his relatives, demanding to know his whereabouts. Taliban fighters searched his home and interrogated his mother, said the major, who had moved with his wife and four children to a series of safe houses.

“It’s very dangerous for us here,” the major said.

He said he had been unable to reach anyone in the U.S. government or military, other than his former U.S. Air Force adviser. “It seems we aren’t so important to them anymore,” he said.

The Taliban have said there is a general amnesty for any Afghan who served in the former government or worked with the U.S. government or military. But several Afghan Air Force pilots have been killed by the Taliban this year.

“They have no good options,” General Hicks said. “They’re at risk of being hunted down and killed.”

A major who piloted C-208 planes and was trained at a U.S. Air Force base in Texas said he turned down a chance to fly to Tajikistan in August because he didn’t want to leave his family behind. Now he and his wife and their seven children are in hiding, low on money and food.

“Our life gets worse day by day,” the major said. “We can’t stay in one place. We are always hiding — even our relatives don’t know where we are.”

General Hicks said he feared the pilots and crew members in Afghanistan would soon run out of money and food, and possibly lose what freedom they have left.

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