Afghanistan: Last UK evacuation flight leaves Kabul airport
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Britain’s armed forces are now preparing to leave Kabul and will take small numbers of Afghan citizens with them on remaining flights this weekend, a defence ministry spokesperson said this evening. Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow told a reporter on the tarmac at Kabul’s main airport that it is “time to close this phase of the operation down”. But there are fears for the welfare of up to 1,100 Afghans who had worked with Britain and were eligible to leave the country did not make it through in time.
Britain’s ambassador said: “It’s time to close this phase of the operation down.
“But we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave, and we will do everything we can to help them.”
The wind-down of the evacuation comes ahead of the 31st August deadline agreed between US forces and the Taliban.
On Friday, British defence minister Ben Wallace said that the country was entering the final hours of its evacuation and would process only people who were already inside Kabul airport.
He said between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible to leave on British flights will be left behind.
The last British flight evacuating civilians from Afghanistan has left Kabul (Image: JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA)
On Friday, Ben Wallace said the country was entering the final hours of evacuation (Image: JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA)
The BBC Diplomatic correspondent Caroline Hawley said: “Among the planes leaving Kabul today was the last British evacuation flight for civilians.
“Nearly 15,000 Afghans have been brought out by the RAF.
“But hundreds have not been able to reach the airport – Afghans whose lives are now at risk.”
General Nick Carter, the head of Britain’s armed forces, told the BBC on Saturday that the total stranded in Afghanistan would be in the “high hundreds”.
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There are fears for the welfare of up to 1,100 Afghans who had worked with Britain (Image: BBC/MOD)
In an emotional interview, he said: “We have done an extraordinary job to evacuate as many people as we have.
“But I’m afraid it is absolutely heartbreaking we can’t bring everyone out.
“I have had over a hundred messages from Afghans I’ve known over time, and most of them won’t make it out.
“Not a day passes that I don’t have a tear in my eye about all of that.”
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By the end of the weekend, the last military flight will have left Kabul with diplomats and soldiers (Image: JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA)
A British military transport plane carrying armed forces members landed at an airbase in southern England on Saturday.
By the end of the weekend, the last British military flight will have left Kabul carrying diplomats and soldiers.
More than 450 British armed forces personnel died during two decades of deployment in the country.
General Carter also said Britain and its allies might be forced to cooperate with the Taliban in future to tackle threats from the ISIS militant group.
The group, enemies of both Western countries and the Taliban, was responsible for a suicide bombing just outside Kabul airport on Thursday.
He told Sky News: “If the Taliban are able to demonstrate that they can behave in the way that a normal government would behave in relation to a terrorist threat, we may well discover that we operate together.”
Also on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the G7 should take a common approach to dealing with any future Taliban government.