Afghanistan LIVE: Taliban take control of Kabul as Brits evacuate – gunfight near airport

11:30 Russia in contact with Taliban via embassy in Kabul

Russia is communicating with Taliban officials via its embassy in Kabul, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan has confirmed.

“They are talking in Kabul.

“All contacts are being made there at the moment.

“The embassy is dealing with this,” the representative, Zamir Kabulov, said. 

The contact began when Taliban members in traditional shalwar kameez clothing arrived at the Russian embassy earlier today. 

“It went absolutely calmly amd without incident.

“They [the Taliban] came and took it [the embassy] under guard,” he said.

“Our embassy will stay in contact with specially assigned representatives of the Taliban higher leadership to work out a permanent mechanism of ensuring the safety of our embassy,” he said.

11:17 Dutch military plans multiple evacuation flights out of Afghanistan

The Dutch military plans to operate multiple flights to Afghanistan, the country’s defense minister said in a statement today.

Ank Bijleveld said one aircraft was already on its way to Kabul.

Mrs Bijleveld explained: “In part due to the uncertain situation multiple flights are planned.”

The evacuation comes after the Taliban declared victory in Kabul yesterday and hundreds of Taliban fighters swarmed the city. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters: “We are doing all we can to get embassy staff, translators and others who deserve our protection out – but it’s very complicated.”

Last week Bijleveld put the number of Afghan translators and local staff to be evacuated at “a few dozen,” and press agency ANP on Sunday reported that 110 translators and their families, out of 273 that worked for the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, have already been evacuated.

The Dutch parliament’s defence commission is due to return from a summer recess on Tuesday to debate the situation in Afghanistan including asylum for translators and others stranded in Kabul.

11:06 Hundreds run alongside aircrafts before take off

New footage shows hundreds of people running alongside US Military aircrafts as it prepares to take off. 

Journalist Ahmer Khan said: “This is how desperate people are, trying to hang outside the aircrafts leaving Kabul.

“Unimaginable.”

Two people later fell from the aircraft as it took off. 

10:56 John Baron MP seeks apology from PM and assurances over ‘shambolic’ Afghanistan strategy

Conservative MP for  Basildon and Billericay, John Baron, has hit out at the government’s ‘shambolic’ handling of the situation in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban seized control of the capital city Kabul and declared victory yesterday. 

Today has seen scenes of chaos as hundreds of people swarmed the airport in a bid to escape the Taliban. 

There have been reports that the fighters are stationed directly outside the airport, which the US are currently using to evacuate US nationals and their allies.

Mr Baron said: “The fundamental error was allowing the initial limited and successful mission of expelling al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in 2001 to morph into the much wider mission of nation-building in the following years, which meant we had to take on the Taliban.

“This wider mission was born of ignorance, was unrealistic in its aims, poorly executed and thoroughly under-resourced – even the withdrawal is a shambles.

“Our intervention now brings its responsibilities.

“In addition to getting our nationals out safely, the international community must now stand by those fleeing the country in fear of their lives, including those who helped British forces.

“As a country, we need to do our bit to reach out and welcome the refugees and asylum seekers.

“The priority now is to save lives.”

10:42 Efforts to evacuate Irish nationals underway

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister has said his department is working to get 15 Irish nationals out of Afghanistan. 

Simon Coveney said there are currently 23 Irish nationals in Afghanistan, with 15 wanting to escape.

He spoke of his concerns about the “chaotic situation” in the country.

Mr  Coveney’s department had initially been helping Irish nationals evacuate on commercial flights, but they have now been cancelled.

The efforts have now begun to find alterative routes out for nationals and foreigners by working with other EU countries, the UK and the US.

Kabul airport has so far not come under attack. 

However, there are fears that could change quickly with Taliban insurgents now effectively in control of the capital and fighters reportedly stationed outside the airport. 

10:28 Five killed at chaotic Afghan airport

Five people have been killed at Kabul airport today, according to witnesses.

US troops are currently in control of air traffic as they evacuate their embassy staff and allied forces.

This comes a day after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital and declared the war was over and peace prevailed.

Troops have reportedly fired in the air to deter people trying to force their way onto a military flight that was set to take US diplomats and embassy staff out of the fallen city.

Witnesses say three people died in a gun battle earlier today and a video circulating on social media shows two bodies falling from a US Military aircraft as it takes off.

It has not been confirmed how the people died.

There has also been reports of multiple stampedes as people scramble to escape the Taliban. 

10:10 UK Military can not return to Afghanistan, says former NATO head

The former head of Nato has said the UK military cannot return to Afghanistan after the country was retaken by the Taliban yesterday.

Lord Robertson, who served as general secretary of the military alliance between 1999 and 2004, said today that the UK should focus on increasing its defences against terrorism at home instead of pushing efforts in Afghanistan. 

On Good Morning Scotland he said that the speed of the takeover showed a “failure of intelligence” from allied forces.

Lord Robertson added that he was “sad and sickened” by the scenes from the country, where Western coalition forces had been stationed for two decades.

“I find it ironic at best but tragic at worst that the anniversary of 9/11 is going to be commemorated in a few weeks’ time with the Taliban back in control of Kabul – that is deeply, deeply depressing.

“I don’t think we’re going to be back in there again.

“We can’t go in there militarily – that’s over, that’s finished.

“That’s an episode we’ll have to reflect on and learn lots of lessons from.

“But what we have to do is to make sure that our own defences are much more resilient as a consequence of this particular failure, and we’ve got to watch what the international ramifications are going to be – they will not be good.”

10:05 Helicopters used to clear crowds from airport runway

Apache helicopters are being used to clear the crowds from the runways at Kabul airport today as hundreds try to flee Afghanistan. 

Two apaches can be seen flying low across the runways, dispersing the barely controlled mass of people. 

Journalist Ahmer Khan commented: “Things are so out of control at Kabul airport that two apaches are clearing the runway.”

09:50 People seen falling from US Military aircraft

In a disturbing video circulating on social media, two bodies can be seen falling from a US Military aircraft as it takes off from Kabul. 

This tragic development comes as hundreds of people scramble at Kabul airport, desperate to escape the Taliban. 

09:43 Biden’s Afghanistan response is an ’embarrassment’

John Bolton, former assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs, has branded Joe Biden’s Afghanistan response “an embarrassment”. 

He wrote in a Tweet: “Biden’s unfolding Afghanistan tragedy is an embarrassment.

“US policy should be no aid whatsoever to any Afghan government that includes the Taliban.

“The strategic implications of this surrender will not be lost on Russia, China, Iran, & North Korea.

Biden’s unfolding Afghanistan tragedy is an embarrassment. US policy should be no aid whatsoever to any Afghan government that includes the Taliban. The strategic implications of this surrender will not be lost on Russia, China, Iran, & North Korea. https://t.co/iqDTyTrfjp

u2014 John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 15, 2021

09:29 Foreign secretary accused of going ‘AWOL’

The foreign secretary has been accused of “going AWOL” as he remained on holiday during the escalating crisis in Afghanistan last week. 

Kay Burley asked defence secretary Ben Wallace how frustrated he was that Dominic Raab was on holiday abroad while chaos erupted in the middle east. 

Mr Wallace insisted he had been in contact with Mr Raab “every day” and had “not been aware of a drop in service or inability to deliver”. 

The criticism comes as the Taliban successfully captured the capital city Kabul, along with every other major city in the country. 

09:24 Foreign embassies clear staff from Afghanistan

The race is on for foreign embassies to evacuate their staff from Taliban held Afghanistan. 

The Taliban now occupy every major city in the country after sweeping 20 provincial capitals in two weeks. 

Sweden has announced all embassy personnel have successfully left Afghanistan. 

The UAE has evacuated all diplomats from Kabul, according to its foreign ministry. 

All Spanish nationals are reportedly awaiting flights to Spain at Kabul airport. 

The EU is working with member states to relocate Afghan staff and families to safety. 

09:13 Foreigners can leave, Afghans barred from departing

Andrew Neil has reported the Taliban are stationed at the airport gates after previously barring Afghans from departing. 

The Taliban now insist Afghans can return home from Kabul airport without being harmed.

The announcement follows chaos as hundreds of people scramble to escape the Taliban at the Kabul airport. 

A gunfight broke out, reportedly killing three people. 

The US are running air traffic control in an effort to evacuate US citizens and their allies. 

US running air traffic control. Civilian side of airport closed until further notice. Taliban says Afghans at airport can return home from Kabul airport and wonu2019t be harmed (sic). Recently it said foreigners could leave but Afghans barred from departing. Taliban at airport gates

u2014 Andrew Neil (@afneil) August 16, 2021

09:07 ‘Some people won’t get back’ from Afghanistan

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace struggled to hold back tears this morning as he reflected on the chaos engulfing Afghanistan. 

Speaking on LBC, Mr Wallace said: “There is a deep part of regret for me.

“Some people won’t get back, some people won’t get back and we will have to do our best in third countries to process those people.”

Mr Ferrari questioned why this issue was impacting him so personally.

Mr Wallace replied: “It is because it is sad.

“The West has done what it has done and we have to do our very best to get people out and stand by our obligations.

“20 years of sacrifice is what it is.”

Mr Wallace insisted British troops were now only in Afghanistan to aid in the evacuation attempts across the country. 

Afghanistan: UK aiming to evacuate British nationals by 31 August 2021

08:59 Shamima Begum’s lawyer jokes ‘the boys are back’

Shamima Begum’s lawyer made a tasteless joke saying “the boys are back in town” – referring to the Taliban militants seizing control in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul.

Tasnime Akunjee, who represents Ms Begum in her legal battles, is a criminal defence lawyer who specialises in terrorism law.

Mr Akunjee posted a photo of the Taliban leadership inside the Afghan presidential palace on Twitter yesterday evening with a caption that read “the boys are back in town”.

He then replied to his own tweet with a YouTube link to the song ‘Boys Are Back In Town’ by Thin Lizzy.

Mr Akunjee has also previously defended one of Lee Rigby’s killers, who acted to avenge the killing of Muslims by British armed forces.

08:52 First flight carrying British nationals evacuated from Afghanistan arrives in UK

The first flight carrying British nationals evacuated from Taliban occupied Afghanistan has arrived in the UK. 

The UK Armed Forces are supporting the evacuation of British nationals and those eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program after the Taliban seized Kabul. 

Embassy staff were among those who arrived at RAF Brize Norton last night.

The Taliban now controls every city in Afghanistan. 

Last night the first flight of British Nationals and Embassy Staff arrived at RAF Brize Norton as part of Op PITTING.

The UK Armed Forces are supporting the evacuation of British Nationals and those eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program. pic.twitter.com/IyGNIMEaD0

u2014 Ministry of Defence ud83cuddecud83cudde7 (@DefenceHQ) August 16, 2021

08:46 ‘We’re going to go back,’ said Britain’s defence minister

The Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and British forces are not going to return to fight the insurgents, Britain’s defence minister said this morning.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News: “I acknowledge that the Taliban are in control of the country.

“I mean, you don’t have to be a political scientist to spot that’s where we’re at.”

Asked if Britain and NATO would return to Afghanistan, Wallace said: “That’s not on the cards… we’re going to go back”

08:40 Three Swiss development agency workers evacuated from Afghanistan

Three development agency workers have been pulled out of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul by Switzerland, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday. 

They are working hard to evacuate local personnel, they added. 

“They are on their way to Switzerland,” Ignazio Cassis said in a tweet, saying the workers had been withdrawn with the help of Switzerland’s partners.

“We are working very hard under the most difficult circumstances to evacuate local staff,” he added.

Wir konnten unsere drei Mitarbeitenden des DEZA-Bu00fcros in Kabul mit Hilfe unserer Partner ausser Land bringen. Sie sind unterwegs in die Schweiz. Arbeiten mit Hochdruck daran, unter schwierigsten Umstu00e4nden das Lokalpersonal zu evakuieren.

u2014 Ignazio Cassis (@ignaziocassis) August 16, 2021

08:18 3 dead in Kabul airport chaos

At least three people are reported to have been killed as chaos engulfs Kabul airport. 

Gunfire has erupted at Kabul airport as hundreds climb over each other trying to escape the Taliban held city. 

William Murphy

William Murphy

Related post