Last British flight from Afghanistan returns to UK – as Defense Secretary pays tribute to troops Bedford News

Last night (August 28), British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace tweeted a photo of hundreds of British soldiers returning home after the Kabul evacuation mission.

It has now been revealed that Sir Laurie Bristow, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, was among the last troops to land at RAF Brize Norton Base in Oxfordshire on Sunday morning.

It ends Operation Pitting, considered the UK’s largest evacuation effort since World War II.

“The highest level of bravery”

More than 15,000 eligible Afghans and British nationals were evacuated within two weeks of August 14, ending Britain’s 20-year military engagement in Afghanistan.

Around 5,000 British nationals and their families were airlifted, alongside more than 8,000 former UK Afghan staff and their families and those considered threatened by the Taliban, such as journalists, judges and members of the LGBTQ + community.

The evacuation included the Royal Air Force’s larger capacity flight, with 436 people carried aboard a C-17 aircraft.

Mr Wallace thanked the troops for their unwavering determination to complete the mission, writing on Twitter: “The UK should be very proud of what you have done. Each of you has demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism and bravery.

“You have helped thousands of people have a better future and better security. Thank you.”

“A huge international effort”

The Defense Secretary estimated that up to 1,100 refugees and eligible British nationals were left behind as the government chose to end the mission three days before its original intention.

The head of the UK evacuation effort, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, said he would be “very nervous” announcing that the mission had been a success until all diplomats and troops were gone home.

He acknowledged “the huge international effort” but added that it was “not at all a time of celebration for us”, adding that there was a “feeling of sadness” among those who remained.

The evacuation was initially scheduled to end in cohesion with the American mission on August 31. However, a terrorist attack at Kabul airport on Thursday that killed 13 American soldiers and several Britons led to an untimely end to the mission.

The Prime Minister said that the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan “has kept al Qaeda from moving us away for two decades and we are all safer as a result”.

In a letter to the armed forces, Boris Johnson acknowledged that it would be a particularly “particularly difficult time for the friends and relatives of the 457 servicemen who gave their lives” as the country watched the Taliban reclaim Kabul.

“Whether you are still in service or a veteran, loved one, relative or friend, you have all played your part and you should feel immense pride,” he added.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK was considering sanctions against the militants, that any action “would depend on the choices the Taliban make on key issues” – including to allow passage safe out of the country.

More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2021-08-29 12:35:57

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *