London: Britain said it will conduct its last evacuation flight from Kabul on Saturday and then withdraw its troops, leaving behind hundreds of Afghans who were eligible to fly to Britain.
As Taliban forces are preparing to take over the airport, Britain will end the airlift of civilians before the August 31st deadline for the withdrawal of American troops.
“We’re reaching the end of the evacuation, which will take place during the course of today,” General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday.
“We have some civilian flights to take out but it’s very few now,” he said, after which “it will be necessary to bring our troops out on the remaining aircraft”.
The British Ministry of Defence said on Friday that it has evacuated more than 13,000 people in the past 14 days.
The ministry said it has now stopped calling people to evacuate and is focusing on British nationals.
Carter said that the evacuation was “completed in this situation,” but admitted that “we failed to bring everyone out” is “heartbreaking.”
The head of the armed forces estimated that “up to hundreds” of eligible Afghans who have not evacuated have said that many are afraid of going to the airport or unable to travel.
He emphasized that if they manage to pass through a third country or otherwise leave after the deadline, they will be welcomed in the UK.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that the UK will “turn the world upside down” to help the Afghans who remain after the current operation.
Foreign minister Dominic Raab on Friday confirmed that two British nationals and the child of another British citizen were killed in Thursday’s bomb attack at Kabul airport, claimed by the regional Islamic State chapter.
The last few days will be “a very demanding operation”, Carter said.
“I think our American allies who will effectively be the rearguard as this happens, are going to be very challenged”, he said, adding that the threat “has not gone away”.