The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has published a letter to “all those who served in Afghanistan.”
“Over the last two decades, many thousands of you gave your lives to services in Afghanistan, often in the most arduous conditions. I realise this will be an
The Russian Ambassador to Kabul, Dmitry Zhirnov has said that the Taliban could take over the Panjshir province within hours.
Panjshir province in the north-east of the country has emerged as a centre of resistance to Taliban rule in recent weeks. Along with Baghlan, Panjshir is one of two provinces reportedly not controlled by the Taliban.
Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news agency reports:
“I think they could take over Panjshir in a day, maybe even in a few hours, but they don’t do it to avoid bloodshed,” Zhirnov said on a YouTube Live show.
The diplomat added that the situation in the only Afghan province that had not fallen to the Taliban was relatively calm.
Zhirnov also said that the Islamic State suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul represented a challenge to the Taliban and not the United States. He added that there was a fierce confrontation between the two extremist groups, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and the Taliban.
ISKP was founded just under six years ago after representatives of IS made their way to south-western Pakistan to meet disaffected Taliban commanders and other extremists who felt marginalised within the jihadist movement in the region.
Earlier, AP reported that the crowd waiting outside Kabul airport’s gates has thinned out following the warning of a “specific, credible” threat issued by the US embassy in the early hours of Sunday morning.
President Biden warned on Saturday that another terrorist attack in Kabul was highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours, and said the US drone strike that killed two Islamic State targets in retaliation for and as many as 170 civilians on Thursday would not be the last such action.
President Biden warned on Saturday that another terrorist attack in Kabul was highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours.
President Biden warned on Saturday that another terrorist attack in Kabul was highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours. Photograph: Pete
The final plane carrying British troops has arrived at RAF Brize Norton, bringing an end to the UK evacuation effort, Operation Pitting.
Labour has accused government ministers of being “missing in action” during the Afghanistan crisis as the blame game over the handling of the withdrawal after a 20-year campaign in the country began.
The Sunday Times claims that up to 9,000 people who may have been eligible to escape – such as women, journalists, and aid workers – were left behind.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace previously said he believed there were between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme who would be left behind, while about 100 and 150 UK nationals would remain in Afghanistan, although Wallace said some of those were staying willingly.
Guardian foreign correspondent Jason Burke has written on the parallel between US president Biden’s pledge to for the Islamic State suicide bombing in Kabul last week and the words of President George W Bush in the wake of 9/11.
Biden pledged an end to “America’s longest war” in April. Outlining his intention to end the US military presence in Afghanistan prior the the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The decision has received criticism in diplomatic and military circles in the wake of the Taliban seizing power.
You can read Jason Burke’s full piece below:
I watched the bombs fall to unleash the 9/11 wars. Two decades later, they grind on
A former head of the British Army said the UK government was “asleep on watch” in relation to the protection of Afghans who helped soldiers and officials.
Speaking on Times Radio, Gen Lord Richard Dannatt said:
“This issue has been on politicians’ desks for two to three years and, certainly, it’s been there during the course of this year.”
Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the “key priority” of the UK government should now be to “make sure we get humanitarian assistance in to the people of Afghanistan”.
She told Sky News: “Right now, the UK needs to get its act together and get its plans in place to save the lives of those who supported us.”
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that Taliban leaders, seeking have told farmers to stop cultivating opium poppies, residents of some major poppy-growing areas say.
The move comes as the Taliban court international recognition after seizing power in Afghanistan.
This has caused raw opium prices to soar across the country.
“If Taliban ban the cultivation of poppy, people will die from starvation, especially when international aid stops,” a poppy farmer in Uruzgan said.
BBC World News anchor Yalda Hakim reports that almost all internet and telecom services have been disrupted by the Taliban in Panjshir.
Panjshir province in the north-east of the country has emerged as a centre of resistance to Taliban rule in recent weeks. It’s currently controlled by the Second Resistance, and with Baghlan is one of two provinces reportedly not controlled by the Taliban.
Local sources tell me almost all internet and telecom services have been disrupted by the Taliban in Panjshir. An anti-resistance movement has been forming there since the fall of Kabul #Afghanistan
The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, is among the military and diplomatic personnel evacuated from Kabul who have landed at RAF Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire.
The government said of the 15,000 people evacuated since the Taliban seized Kabul, 5,000 of those were British nationals and their families.
More than 8,000 Afghans who helped the British effort as interpreters or in other roles, or who are otherwise vulnerable to persecution by the regime, were also able to flee to safety with their families.
Addressing the families and loved ones of the British troops who “gave their all”, Boris Johnson said: “Your suffering and your hardship were not in vain.”
He described the UK departure from Afghanistan as “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”.
Laurie Bristow speaks with an HMG staff member as they facilitate the UK evacuation effort in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Laurie Bristow speaks with an HMG staff member as they facilitate the UK evacuation effort in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photograph: Reuters
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday he believed there were between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme who would be left behind, while about 100 and 150 UK nationals would remain in Afghanistan, although some of those were staying willingly.
On the fact that not everyone eligible for evacuation from Kabul could be rescued, Vice-Admiral Key said: “That is both true and a matter of great sadness for all of us that have been involved in this.
“Whilst we recognise and I pay testament to the achievement of everything that has been achieved by coalition forces, but particularly the British contingent, over the last two weeks, in the end we know that there are some really sad stories of people who have desperately tried to leave that we have – no matter how hard our efforts – we have been unsuccessful in evacuating.”
Vice-Admiral Ben Key, Chief of Joint Operations, who commands Operation Pitting, speaks to the media at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
Vice-Admiral Ben Key, Chief of Joint Operations, who commands Operation Pitting, speaks to the media at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Photograph: Jonathan
The final plane carrying UK troops arrived at RAF Brize Norton from Kabul today , drawing to a close Britain’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan and a two-week operation (Operation Pitting) to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies.
Speaking at RAF Brize Norton, Vice-Admiral Ben Key, the chief of joint operations, who commands Operation Pitting, said the withdrawal could not be considered a success until the US and other allies had completed their operations.
Although the United Kingdom’s Operation Pitting finishes today, of course the United States are still engaged in their own withdrawal and I would be very nervous in saying we had completed a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan until all our allies and partners have returned.
The United States has provided the framework for security in Kabul as part of a huge international effort and so operations continue even if the UK’s particular contribution concludes today.
Final plane carrying British troops touches down in UK
The final plane carrying British troops has arrived at RAF Brize Norton.
In a video uploaded to Twitter this morning, Boris Johnson praised the more than 1,000 military personnel, diplomats and officials who took part in the operation in Afghanistan.
He said: “UK troops and officials have worked around the clock to a remorseless deadline in harrowing conditions.”
And described the UK departure from Afghanistan as “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”.
BREAKING: The last plane carrying British troops from Afghanistan arrives at RAF Brize Norton following the end of Britain’s 20-year campaign in Afghanistan.
And more on that story, the Observer front page today.
Thousands of emails to the Foreign Office from MPs and charities detailing urgent cases of Afghans trying to escape from Kabul have not been read, including cases flagged by government ministers.
In many cases, emails detailing the cases of Afghans who fear for their families’ lives appear to have been unopened for days.
An email from the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, sent on Monday was still unread on Thursday.
Revealed: Foreign Office ignored frantic pleas to help Afghans
In the video, UK prime minister Boris Johnson, said Britain’s departure from Afghanistan was “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”.
Two decades of engagement in Afghanistan by British troops came to an end on Saturday night, brining a close to the largest evacuation mission since the second world war.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace previously said he believed there were between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme who would be left behind, while around 100 and 150 UK nationals will remain in Afghanistan, although some of those were staying willingly.
The Observer reports today that thousands of emails from MPs and charities highlighting potentially eligible cases went unread by the department.
Though we would not have wished to leave in this way, we have to recognise that we came in with the United States, in defence and support of the US and the US military did the overwhelming bulk of the fighting. Though we now leave with the United States, we will remain represented in the region. Together with our allies in America and Europe and around the world, we will engage with the Taliban not on the basis of what they say but what they do.
Boris Johnson comments on evacuations after Kabul blasts
Boris Johnson comments on evacuations after Kabul blasts Photograph: UK Pool
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the families and loved ones of British military personnel in a video posted on Twitter this morning.
“Your suffering and your hardship were not in vain,” he said.
“It was no accident that there’s been no terrorist attack launched against Britain or any other western country from Afghanistan in the last 20 years.”
Alex Mistlin here taking over. If you’ve spotted a mistake or an update I’ve missed you can get in touch via Twitter: @amistlin
I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as the Taliban and the departing US forces negotiate the handover of Kabul airport while the US Embassy in Kabul warns of a ‘specific, credible threat’.