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Biden LIVE: Ex-UK soldier forced to act to save 400 Afghans as US exit deadline hits TODAY

More than 79,000 civilians evacuated by US military

The US military evacuated more than 79,000 civilians from Afghanistan over an 18 day period, according to Department of Defense spokesman General McKenzie.

This figure includes 6,000 Americans and more than 73,500 third country nationals and Afghan civilians. 

It was the largest non-combative evacuation in US military history, providing refuge for tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans fearing for their lives under Taliban rule.

In total, the US-led evacuation effort successfully evacuated more than 123,000 civilians from Afghanistan. 

Gen. McKenzie: In total, U.S. military and coalition aircraft combined to evacuate more than 123,000 civilians, which were all enabled by U.S. military service members, who were securing and operating the airfield. pic.twitter.com/94oyGY1nNB

u2014 Department of Defense ud83cuddfaud83cuddf8 (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021

Tara Fair

UK ‘beefing up’ the number of staff in countries around Afghanistan

The UK is increasing staff in countries neighbouring Afghanistan in order to help evacuate the remaining people left behind, Downing Street said.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We are beefing up the number of staff in neighbouring countries, Foreign Office and other staff, to support that. 

“That’s something that we’re in the process of arranging, these surge staff.”

The announcement comes hours after the final US troops left Afghanistan after 20 years in the country. 

The Taliban refused to extend the withdrawal deadline August 31 which meant thousands of people eligible for evacuation were left behind. 

Tara Fair

Downing Street denies forcing US to keep airport gate open hours before deadly terror attack

Downing Street has categorically denied suggestions that the UK pushed to keep the Abbey Gate at Kabul airport’s open before the deadly terror attack.

The denied reports claim the UK pressured the US to keep the gates open in order to accelerate the British evacuation mission and that transatlantic ties were frayed after the ISIS-K terror attack which killed 13 US military personnel and 170 Afghans.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s simply not true to suggest that we pushed to keep the gate open.

“In response to the change in travel advice ahead of the attack last week the UK moved operations out of the Baron Hotel.”

Asked about the state of relations between London and Washington, he said: “The US continues to be our strongest ally.”

Tara Fair

Biden talked ‘about his son more than mine’ said father of fallen soldier

The father of one of the 13 US soldiers killed in the Kabul airport terrorist attack has slammed President Joe Biden for “talking about his son more than mine”. 

Mark Schmitz, the father of Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, told Fox News his meeting with President Biden “did not go well”. 

Mr Schmitz said the president spent more time talking about his son Beau, who also served in the army before his death, than Jared. 

Jared was only 20 years old when he was killed by the ISIS-K suicide bomb last week. 

President Biden also came under fire for appearing to repeatedly check his watch during the ‘dignified transfer’ of the fallen troops from Afghanistan to the US.

Some families of the late soldiers refused to meet the president at the ceremony out of anger about his handling of the withdrawal. 

Biden Live

Biden was lambasted by Fox News for appearing to check his watch during the ceremony (Image: NC)

Tara Fair

Tom Tugendhat hits back at US congress woman

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat has hit back at Democrat congresswoman Ilhan Omar for over-simplifying the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Mr Tugendhat, who served in Afghanistan, warned the Democrat that “leaving people defenceless in front of armed gangs” risks starting new conflicts, rather than ending old ones. 

President Biden has faces criticism from across the political spectrum for the chaotic US withdrawal which has cost hundreds of lives. 

Ending wars is good. Leaving people defenceless in front of armed gangs is not how you end a war, it’s how you start a new one. https://t.co/ZCGOu17Ylg

u2014 Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) August 31, 2021

Tara Fair

Angela Merkel says up to 40,000 people left in Afghanistan with right to German residence

There is still between 10,000 and 40,000 local staff working for development organisations in Afghanistan who are eligible for German evacuation, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

Speaking at a Berlin news conference, Ms Merkel said most of those working for the German armed forces and police were already outside Afghanistan, but that, since development aid to Afghanistan had not been stopped, many staff in that field remained in the country.

The Chancellor said: “For us the focus at the moment is local staff and that’s not 300 people, that’s probably more like 10-40,000 people, and we will have to see how many of them want to leave the country and how many not.

“As we’ve seen, nobody takes the decision to leave their home lightly.”

Biden Live

Germany has left up to 40,000 eligible vulnerable Afghans in the Taliban-controlled country (Image: GETTY)

Tara Fair

UK has suffered ‘very significant defeat’, says former defence secretary

The UK has suffered a “very significant defeat” in Afghanistan, according to the former defence secretary, Lord Brian Hutton. 

Speaking on Sky News, Lord Hutton, who served as defence secretary under former PM Gordon Brown, said: “there is no point in disguising the fact we’ve suffered a very significant defeat [in Afghanistan].”

The most “important thing” is to look at what lessons can be learned from the tragic turn of events, he argued. 

“We have got to make sure we don’t turn the defeat into a rout [because terrorists] will still come after us whether we are in Afghanistan or not,” he added.

Referring to the Taliban, Lord Hutton said: “I don’t think we should place any emphasis on their words.

“We need to judge them by what they do.”

Tara Fair

Final US soldier to leave Afghanistan will define era

A photo taken in the last moments of the US evacuation effort looks set to become one of the key defining images of the 20-year campaign.

The photo shows Major General Chris Donahue – the final American soldier to leave Afghanistan boarding the military aircraft. 

Pentagon national security expert Alex Plitsas said: “This is what leadership looks like.

“The last US soldier on the ground in Afghanistan was the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, Major General Chris Donahue.

“He made sure all of the troops got out safely, first, before boarding the final C-17 flight out of Kabul.”

This photo stands in stark contrast to another key image which will also define the era for very different reasons: the two people falling to their deaths from the US military aircraft as it took off the day after the Taliban declared victory. 

Many compared this photograph to the lasting image from the Saigon withdrawal which similarly saw a body falling from a departing helicopter. 

This is what leadership looks like . The last US soldier on the ground in Afghanistan was the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, Major General Chris Donahue. He made sure all of the troops got out safely, first, before boarding the final C-17 flight out of Kabul. pic.twitter.com/66yMmNYthX

u2014 Alex Plitsas ud83cuddfaud83cuddf8 (@alexplitsas) August 31, 2021

Tara Fair

Poland considering state of emergency after illegal border crossings from Afghanistan rocket

Poland is considering introducing a state of emergency in two regions along its border with Belarus after the Polish Border Guard reported hundreds of illegal border crossings had taken place this month. 

Last week, Poland began building a barbed wire fence along the compromised border in an effort to curb the flow of migrants from countries such as Afghanistan crossing from Belarus.

The European Union has accused Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko of waging “hybrid warfare” with migrants to exert pressure on the bloc.

Poland also sees Belarus’s behaviour as retaliation for Warsaw’s decision to give refuge to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Minsk has not responded to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Polish authorities have faced criticism from human rights groups for not accepting migrants, and for denying those at the border adequate medical care.

Warsaw argues they are the responsibility of the Belarusian authorities.

Biden Live

Refugees seen in makeshift camp after illegal border crossing (Image: GETTY)

Tara Fair

‘Why did I work for people who left me?’ stranded teacher ‘regrets’ working with the English

A former English language teacher stranded in Afghanistan said he “regrets” working with the UK mission in the country because his life is now at risk from the Taliban.

The unnamed teacher said he has been targeted by the Taliban because his face is on billboards in Afghanistan advertising English classes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I regret working with the English.

“I regret helping people learn English.

“Why did I work for people who left me and fled and left me alone here?

“They are looking for me because I’ve got pictures in billboards advertised for classes.

“Also, I worked for the British Council.

“I worked for the UK for the past eight or nine years.”

US forces finally withdrew from Afghanistan yesterday, a day ahead of the deadline set by Joe Biden, bringing to an end a deployment that began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago.

Now that foreign troops have left Afghanistan, foreign secretary Dominic Raab admits it will be a ‘challenge’ for British citizens and vulnerable Afghans to escape.

The teacher said he tried to flee the war-torn country shortly after the Taliban took over, but found there was no way to escape.

He said he applied for the evacuation scheme but had “no reply” and was eventually able to obtain a Pakistan visa but has been unable to leave safely.

“Last night was the worst,” he said.

“It was, the whole night, guns while you’re sleeping.

“It damages your mind.

“My fate will be the same, like others.”

Tara Fair

Eight Taliban members killed by cub of Panjshir forces

Eight Taliban members were killed after a battle with militia fighters on Monday, according to the anti-Taliban group National Resistance Forces (NRF).

The battle took place in the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, which has been the only province to hold out against the Taliban since they declared victory on August 15.

Spokesman for the NRF, Fahim Dashti, said the fighting broke out on the western entrance to the valley where the Taliban attacked NRF positions.

He claimed eight Taliban fighters were killed and a similar number wounded, while two members of the NRF forces were also wounded.

The NRF group is loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was known as the Lion of Panjshir.

Ahmad Massoud, who has been called the Cub of Panjshir, has established himself in the Panjshir valley with a force of several thousand, made up of local militias and remnants of army and special forces units ready to fight the Taliban.

Tara Fair

Biden defends decision to withdraw troops

US President Joe Biden has defended his decision to stick to the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline August 31.

In a statement, the president said he said the world would hold the Taliban to their commitment to allow safe passage for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.

President Biden plans to address the American people about the withdrawal this afternoon. 

He has argued that the United States long ago achieved its objective, which was to oust the Taliban in 2001 for harboring the al Qaeda militants who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.

However, the president has drawn heavy criticism across the political spectrum for what many characterise as a chaotic and reckless withdrawal which allowed the Taliban to sweep to power once more.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the US withdrawal a “national disgrace” that was “the direct result of President Biden’s cowardice and incompetence”.

Tara Fair

‘Mock funeral’ held for US and NATO forces

A ‘mock funeral’ for the departed US and NATO powers was held on the streets of Khost, Afghanistan today. 

The act was part of widespread celebrations that erupted hours after the final US aircraft withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation.

Tara Fair

Taliban celebrate victory as last US troops withdraw

Celebratory gunfire rang out across Kabul today as Taliban fighters took control of the airport after the withdrawal of the last US troops.

This departure marks the end of a 20 year conflict, with the Taliban now stronger than they were in 2001.

The last US troops flew out on a C-17 aircraft a minute before midnight, ending a hasty and humiliating exit for Washington and its NATO allies.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “It is a historical day and a historical moment.

“We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power.”

Thousands of locals in Khost have come out today to celebrate the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Seeing both the Taliban flags as well as Afghan National Flag. pic.twitter.com/YQVncq5boh

u2014 FJ (@Natsecjeff) August 31, 2021

Tara Fair

Raab does not rule out airstrikes on ISIS in Afghanistan

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has refused to rule out airstrikes on ISIS factions currently active in Afghanistan

With the threat of the terror cell growing, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston indicated the RAF could strike ISIS-K targets in Afghanistan.

Sir Wigston told the Daily Telegraph: “Ultimately what this boils down to is that we’ve got to be able to play a global role in the global coalition to defeat Daesh, whether it’s strike, or whether it’s moving troops or equipment into a particular country, at scale and at speed.

“If there’s an opportunity for us to contribute I am in no doubt that we will be ready to – that will be anywhere where violent extremism raises its head, and is a direct or indirect threat to the UK and our allies.”

Mr Raab declined to rule out such strikes on BBC’s Today programme: “In extremis, we always reserve the right to exercise lawful self defence and we would, of course, never rule that out in particular in relation to dealing with terrorist groups.” 

The final US troops left Kabul on a flight shortly before midnight local time on Monday, ahead of President Joe Biden’s deadline to withdraw before August 31.

The Taliban proclaimed “full independence” for Afghanistan after the US withdrawal.

Tara Fair

US leaves Taliban military helicopters after withdrawal

Footage has emerged of Taliban fighters entering a hangar in Kabul airport to examine the helicopters left behind after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan. 

This footage comes less than a week after the Taliban captured a fleet of more than 100 Mi-17 military helicopters abandoned by Russia. 

There has also been reports of Taliban-seized US military Black Hawk helicopters being flown over Kandahar. 

Tara Fair

Taliban to announce new government

The Taliban has reportedly completed consultations on the formation of a new government. 

The result of the consultation will be announced “soon”, Jahid Jalil said on Twitter. 

The announcement comes a day after the G7 powers, along with Nato, Turkey and Qatar met to discuss how to proceed with the Taliban. 

Meanwhile, the UK’s UN ambassador Dame Barbara Woodward discussed the situation with her counterparts from the four other permanent member countries of the UN Security Council, China, France, Russia, and the US.

The UK hopes the influence Russia and China could have over the new Afghan government could be key to countering terrorism and the trade in narcotics, preventing a refugee crisis and further economic collapse.

#BreakingNews

Consultations on the formation of a new government are over, and the results will be announced soon.@A_Jahid_Jalal

u2014 Jahid Jalal -u062cu0627u0647u062f u062cu0644u0627u0644 (@A_Jahid_Jalal) August 31, 2021

Tara Fair

Alastair Stewart blasts Biden for UK’s humiliation in Afghanistan

GB News’s Alastair Stewart has furiously hit out at Joe Biden claiming the UK faced a “brutal” humiliation in Afghanistan because of the United States.

Mr Stewart said: “It’s the eve of President Biden’s deadline for departure from Afghanistan, the end of a 20-year incursion to crush the terrorists, whose act of terror humbled the United States with murderous and spectacular attacks on the twin towers on 9/11.

“Allies, ourselves included, begged for an extension to get more of their own people out to offer freedom and safety to Afghans good work with and for us, and to offer hope to other Afghans who prefer the status of refugee to battle hunted enemy of the Taliban. 

“The rejection from Biden was brutal, and humbling for leaders, ours included. 

“It was stark and with it came a brutal lesson, the United States has changed.” 

The US-led coalition left Afghanistan today in line with the withdrawal deadline which the Taliban refused to extend. 

GB News: ‘The rejection from Biden was brutal and humbling

Tara Fair

British nationals still in country will face ‘challenge’, says Dominic Raab

It will be a “challenge” for British nationals left in Afghanistan to leave and return safely to the UK, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. 

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Raab said it was “unclear” when the airport in Kabul would again be operating to facilitate an escape. 

He advised those who wanted to leave Afghanistan to first find their way to a neighbouring country and then arrange safe passage to the UK from there. 

The foreign secretary estimated the number of British nationals left behind now that troops have withdrawn to be in the low hundreds. 

More than 17,000 British nationals, Afghans and other vulnerable people had been evacuated from the country. 

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