Afghanistan: Last UK evacuation flight leaves Kabul airport
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After the UK completed its evacuation programme, it pulled most of its 1,000 troops out of Afghanistan’s airport in Kabul. However, up to 40 members of the SAS regiment reportedly asked to remain in Afghanistan so they can take the fight to IS-K after Thursday’s attacks on Hamid Karzai International Airport.
According to sources, the SAS squadron will likely set up a base in the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The group will then conduct undercover strikes against ISIS-K, the Afghanistan sect of the Islamic State Khorasan Province jihadists, based in the east of the country.
Their base will also be used by the Royal Navy’s SBS special forces, the US Army’s Delta Force and the US Navy Seals – the unit which killed al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
Due to the control the Taliban hold over Afghanistan, defence sources say the SAS group will need its approval to operate in the country, which they think is likely to be approved.
The squadron could be supported by drones and US and possibly British strike planes.
One source told the Mirror the SAS troops are staying in Afghanistan to avenge the deaths of 13 US soldiers after Thursday’s attacks.
They said: “The Marines who died were from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force.
“That unit has given assistance to the SAS and SBS many times over the years in Afghanistan.
“They have helped resupply them with food and ammunition and treated their wounded.
“There is a strong bond between the two units, especially with the SBS who recruit largely from the Royal Marines.”
ISIS-K took responsibility for Thursday’s attacks on Kabul airport, which killed up to 180 people, including 13 US service members and injured more than 150 people.
The first explosion happened at about 6pm, close to the Baron Hotel, near the airport’s perimeter.
The hotel was used by British officials to process Afghans hoping to travel to the UK.
It was followed by gunfire and then a second explosion close to the Abbey Gate, one of the airport’s main entrances.
The terrorist group had warned ahead of the attack they would strike at the airport.
Through a tweet by their spokesperson, the Taliban condemned the attack, saying “evil circles will be strictly stopped”.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video on the end of the UK’s operations in Afghanistan on Saturday, despite 150 British passport holders remaining stranded in the country.
He praised the work of Britain’s evacuation task force, saying the removal of troops was “a moment to reflect on everything we have sacrificed and everything we have achieved in the last two decades”.
In a separate statement, he said: “Your efforts in difficult and hostile circumstances have seen the evacuation of thousands of British nationals alongside Afghans who worked with us, and who will now start new lives in the UK.
“I know that the events of recent weeks will have been hard for the armed forces community to watch unfold.
“Over the last two decades, many thousands of you dedicated years of your lives to service in Afghanistan, often in the most arduous conditions.
“In particular, I realise that this will be an especially difficult time for the friends and loved ones of the 457 service personnel who laid down their lives.
“So I want to take this opportunity to offer my profound thanks for everything you did and to say without hesitation that you should take the greatest pride in your achievements.”
It also comes as US President Joe Biden has warned another attack from ISIS-K could come within days.
He said: “I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have.
“This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.
“Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond.”
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