Final UK plane carrying military leaves Kabul

The UK on Saturday flew out the last of its military from Afghanistan, concluding its pullout while leaving hundreds of Afghans eligible for resettlement behind. 

The defence ministry tweeted that the “final flight carrying UK Armed Forces personnel has left Kabul”, posting photos of drawn and tired-looking soldiers entering a plane.

In a tribute to the troops, the ministry wrote: “To all those who served so bravely under enormous pressure and horrendous conditions to safely evacuate the most vulnerable of civilians: Thank you.” 

Earlier Saturday, the UK sent out a final plane carrying only civilian evacuees as it wound up its operation to airlift civilians, diplomats and troops ahead of the August 31 deadline agreed with the Taliban for US troop withdrawal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked those behind the rescue operation, saying they had helped over 15,000 people in less than two weeks.

“I want to thank everyone involved and the thousands of those who served over the last two decades. You can be proud of what you have achieved,” Johnson said in a message posted on social media.

Defence Minister Ben Wallace said UK troops had “helped thousands to get to a better future and safety”.

– ‘Heartbreaking’

The head of the UK armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter earlier Saturday told the BBC the evacuation operation had “gone as well as it could do” but admitted it was “heartbreaking” that “we haven’t been able to bring everybody out”.

The armed forces chief estimated the number of eligible Afghans who had not been evacuated as “in the high hundreds”.

He stressed that Britain would welcome them if they managed to leave after the deadline, through third countries or other ways.

Defence Secretary Wallace earlier estimated that up to 1,100 Afghans eligible for relocation under the UK’s scheme “didn’t make it”.

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