Foreign

Number of Brits left behind in Afghanistan in ‘low hundreds’

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31 Aug 2021 5:52 AM GMT
Number of Brits left behind in Afghanistan in ‘low hundreds’
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the number of UK nationals left behind in Afghanistan was in the “low hundreds’’ after the western military presence came to an end in the country. The Cabinet minister said on Tuesday he was unable to give a “definitive figure’’ on how many Afghans Britain had failed to airlift […]

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the number of UK nationals left behind in Afghanistan was in the “low hundreds’’ after the western military presence came to an end in the country.

The Cabinet minister said on Tuesday he was unable to give a “definitive figure’’ on how many Afghans Britain had failed to airlift to safety after the Taliban seized power.

Raab was also forced to deny a Pentagon leak suggesting the U.S. wanted to close a gate to Kabul airport ahead of the deadly bombing, but kept it openned to assist the British evacuation.

He did not rule out the RAF taking part in air strikes to target the so-called Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan.

The U.S. ended a deployment that began in the wake of the Sept. 11, attacks two decades ago when it withdrew its remaining forces from Afghanistan on Monday.

Raab did not dismiss the possibility that thousands of Afghans and UK nationals could have been left behind following the departure of British troops ahead of their American counterparts.

Instead, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s very difficult to give you a firm figure. I can tell you that for UK nationals we’ve secured since April over 5,000 and we’re in the low hundreds (remaining).’’

The Foreign Secretary disputed leaked Pentagon notes obtained by the Politico website suggesting the U.S. wanted to close Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate but kept it open to allow UK evacuees into the airport.

Raab said it was “just not true’’ to suggest the UK called for the gate to be left open for part of its exit operation after the leak threatened to strain relations between Britain and the U.S.

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