FINAL BRITISH PLANES DEPART FROM AFGHANISTAN
LONDON: The UK on Saturday flew out the last of its military from Afghanistan, concluding its pullout while leaving hundreds of Afghans eligible for resettlement behind.
The defence ministry tweeted that the “final flight carrying UK Armed Forces personnel has left Kabul”, posting photos of drawn and tired-looking soldiers entering a plane.
In a tribute to the troops, the ministry wrote: “To all those who served so bravely under enormous pressure and horrendous conditions to safely evacuate the most vulnerable of civilians: Thank you.”
Earlier on Saturday, the UK sent out a final plane carrying only civilian evacuees as it wound up its operation to airlift civilians, diplomats and troops ahead of the August 31 deadline agreed with the Taliban for US troop withdrawal.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked those behind the rescue operation, saying they had helped more than 15,000 people.
The head of the UK armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter told the BBC the evacuation operation had “gone as well as it could” but admitted it was “heartbreaking (that) we haven’t been able to bring everybody out”.
The armed forces chief estimated the number of eligible Afghans who had not been evacuated as “in the high hundreds”.
He stressed that Britain would welcome them if they managed to leave after the deadline, through third countries or other ways.
Several British nationals waiting outside the airport were among those killed in a bomb attack on Thursday, claimed by the regional ISIS chapter.
The BBC reported a taxi driver from London, Mohammad Niazi, was killed while his wife and two of their children were missing.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said two British nationals and the child of another British citizen were killed. It was not clear whether this figure included Mr Niazi.