Final U.S. Military Flight Leaves Afghanistan After Evacuation Effort

The Taliban control of Afghanistan continues with citizens fleeing to escape the country before the full withdrawal of American troops on 31 August. Boris Johnson stated that approximately 15,000 people were flown out of Kabul, the capital. He described the time left to evacuate the remaining citizens as “quite short.” The Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported a suicide bombing at the airport’s Abbey Gate, where American and and British troops are stationed. However, no military casualties for the United Kingdom have been reported, with the MoD saying that it is still “too early to know for sure.” The MoD is trying to find out how the bombing will impact further evacuations.

A spokesperson for the MoD stated that, “[O]ur primary concern remains the safety of our personnel, British citizens and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with our [United States] and other NATO allies at an operational level on the immediate response to this incident.” Boris Johnson and other allies have requested that the U.S. extend its deadline for the withdrawal of troops. However, President Joe Biden rejected this request, maintaining that all troops will have left Afghanistan by 31 August.

Boris Johnson met with U.K. troops involved in the evacuations, stating that the rescue mission would “keep going for as long as we can.” He stated that “[I]n the time we have left, which may be… quite short, we’ll do everything we can to get to everybody else.” The Prime Minister ensured that work will be done to house those rescued from Afghanistan, as well as helping them to “integrate into our society.”

James Heappey, the Armed Forces minister, has not given a date for the final U.K. evacuation flights. However, he stated that British and foreign troops would most likely need to leave before the last American airlifts. Prime Minister Johnson, on the other hand, continues to insist that the U.S. deadline will not prevent further U.K. aid and evacuations. Johnson has described the airlifts as the “first phase” of the U.K.’s rescue mission. On 25 August, the U.K. Foreign Office advised that people avoid going to Kabul airport due to the “high threat of a terrorist attack.” Australia and the U.S. have issued similar warnings. Traveling by road is also dangerous, with reported mistreatment against travelers to the airport.

On 26 August, a suicide bombing took place at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The attack happened during the evacuation from Afghanistan. An official from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health reported over 170 people killed and approximately 200 wounded. The final U.S. military flight departed Afghanistan after midnight local time on 31 August. The U.S. confirmed that the diplomatic mission to assist and rescue any citizens who were unable to leave before the deadline will continue.

General Kenneth McKenzie, a top American military commander, stated that U.S. and coalition aircrafts rescued over 123,000 civilians during the evacuation effort, which began on 14 August. Celebratory gunfire, set off by the Taliban, could be heard after the final plane had left. American troops entered Afghanistan in 2001, and the final flight marks the end of military efforts to combat the Islamist militants who have now regained control.