New Imagery Shows No Crowds inside Kabul’s Airport

Days after chaotic footage inside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport sent shockwaves around the world, satellite imagery captured on August 18 paints a starkly different picture. Earlier this week, CSIS reported that groups of civilians had amassed on the airport’s tarmac and along the runway, but new imagery reveals that these areas are now mostly empty. Crowds remain outside the airport, where the Taliban appear to control the nearby roads and airport entrances. Images and videos circulating on social media suggest that the Taliban are seeking, at times violently, to disperse these crowds and prevent further individuals from entering the airport.

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Matthew P. Funaiole is a senior fellow for data analysis with the iDeas Lab and senior fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. is a senior fellow for imagery analysis (non-resident) with the CSIS iDeas Lab and Korea Chair.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

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Matthew P. Funaiole
Vice President, iDeas Lab, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Chair in Innovation and Senior Fellow, China Power Project