Afghanistan: final UK evacuation flight for nationals has left Kabul


The MOD has confirmed the evacuation effort has effectively ended, with soldiers the next to leave (Picture: Getty/AFP)

The UK’s civilian evacuation in Kabul has effectively ended, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

A flight bound for the UK full of Afghan nationals left this afternoon, the last to be scheduled purely for evacuation purposes.

Any further flights which will now leave Kabul under the UK’s evacuation operation will have diplomatic and military personnel on board.

Evacuation operations are being wound down ahead of the August 31 deadline for troop withdrawals.

It is understood any further flights would be able to transport those still needing evacuation, but would now also include personnel travelling back to the UK.

Nearly 15,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans have been airlifted out of the country since Operation Pitting began two weeks ago.

The Taliban is preparing to take control of the airport when Western forces leave the country after 20 years of military engagement in the country.

A steady flow of planes carrying civilians and soldiers have been arriving in the UK in recent days (Picture: PA)

New checkpoints have reportedly appeared on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with vehicles and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces.

Areas where large crowds of people had gathered over the past two weeks in the hope of fleeing the country following the Taliban takeover are now largely empty.

At least 170 people were killed when a deadly bomb was detonated among people queueing to gain access to the airport on Thursday.

The approaching end of the evacuation process was confirmed this morning by General Sir Nick Carter, head of the British Armed Forces, who said the operation had ‘gone as well as it could do in the circumstances’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’re reaching the end of the evacuation, which will take place during the course of today.

Almost 15,000 people have been evacuated since August 13 but time must be left to get soldiers out by August 31 (Picture: Reuters)

‘And then of course it’ll be necessary to bring our troops out on the remaining aircraft.’

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has previously admitted between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Arap scheme will be left behind.

Between 100 and 150 UK nationals will also be left in Afghanistan, although Mr Wallace said some of those were staying willingly.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, a former army officer and now chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said he was working on a plan to help more people get out in the coming weeks and months.

He told the BBC: ‘What I am working on, and you’ll understand I’m afraid that I’m not going to give you complete details about this, we’re looking at different networks to get people into second countries, and then connecting them to high commissions and ambassadors of the United Kingdom, to get them to the UK safely.’

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