UK Sends 200 More Soldiers to Kabul to Deal With Evacuation Amid Reports Process May Take Weeks
© AFP 2021 / LEADING HAND BEN SHREADA handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on August 15, 2021 shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING
Last Thursday, before the Taliban* seized power in Afghanistan, London announced that it would send about 600 troops to Kabul to facilitate the evacuation of British nationals and Afghans working for the UK.
The United Kingdom is increasing its military contingent for the evacuation of British citizens from Afghanistan to 900 servicemen, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.
Earlier, the ministry said that about 600 UK servicemen had been deployed to Afghanistan to help evacuate its citizens and Afghan specialists who worked with them, with 100 British soldiers remaining in the country since last week.
According to the MoD, a further 200 armed services personnel will be sent to the country following the Afghan government's collapse and the Taliban's rapid takeover of the capital Kabul.
UK Assured of Free Movement of British, Afghans by Taliban: Defence Secretary
The move came as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News that the Taliban had assured the UK of security for Britons in Afghanistan and of Afghans willing to leave the country.
"The assurances I got were that these people [British and associated Afghans] would not be interfered with and that they [the Taliban] want to demonstrate that people could come and go from Afghanistan as freely as possible", Wallace said.
The defence secretary noted without elaborating that the UK was communicating with the Islamist movement through a third party, a Middle Eastern country.
© AFP 2021 / SHARRON FLOYDA handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on August 16, 2021 shows British Embassy staff and British nationals evacuated from Afghanistan disembarking from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing at RAF Brize Norton airfield, southern England, as part of the British Army's Operation PITTING
A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on August 16, 2021 shows British Embassy staff and British nationals evacuated from Afghanistan disembarking from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing at RAF Brize Norton airfield, southern England, as part of the British Army's Operation PITTING
"I certainly think they will not miss the lesson from 2001 that hosting terrorism and running a state as they did led to rampant poverty and immigration, a refugee crisis and indeed the toppling of that regime", Wallace added when asked whether the Taliban's assurances should be trusted.
He spoke after the UK Home Office confirmed on Sunday that it was working on transporting British citizens and Afghans who had collaborated with UK forces out of Afghanistan.
"Home Office officials are right now working to protect British nationals and help former UK staff and other eligible people travel to the UK", the ministry tweeted, adding that so far, some 3,300 Afghan staff and their families have already been resettled as part of the effort. According to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, 350 more UK nationals and Afghans who worked with British troops would be evacuated in "the days that come".
Additionally, the Home Office announced it had reduced the number of employees working at the country's embassy in Kabul, leaving those who could render consular and visa services to people fleeing the country. The office also noted that the embassy will be moved from Kabul to a "safer place".
The Daily Mail has, meanwhile, reported that the evacuation of some 40,000 Brits, Americans, and Afghans from Kabul may take weeks as thousands of people are now camping out at the Afghan capital's airport.
Flights were earlier grounded after scores of Afghans flooded the runways, trying to jump inside US planes. A video emerged on the internet showing what looked like two people falling to the ground as a US military C-17 aircraft gained altitude.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries