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Exhausted British troops seen on last flight out of Kabul after 20-year campaign

British troops were seen inside a hangar as they departed Kabul on the last flight out of the city on Saturday afternoon as part of Operation Pitting after 20 years in Afghanistan

The Parachute Regiment board final flight out of Afghanistan

Exhausted British troops have been pictured flying out of Kabul for the final time after the evacuation of civilians was complete.

The rescue mission to evacuate UK nationals and others eligible to return to British shores saw up to 150 Britons, as well as more than 1,000 Afghans, left to face uncertain futures under Taliban rule.

Footage and snaps from inside military aircraft shared on Twitter by The Parachute Regiment showed troops leaving Southern Asian country’s capital today, with time stamps showing 4.55pm local time.

The US and Taliban agreed a Tuesday withdrawal deadline.

The religious-political group – regarded by many world powers to be terrorists – took control of Afghanistan two weeks ago after America announced its intention to pull troops after 20 years.

Have you been affected by the evacuation? Let us know at [email protected]



British troops were pictured flying out of Kabul on Saturday after 20 years in Afghanistan
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Image:

JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




The video showed smiling soldiers sitting on the floor of the aircraft listening to Ride of the Valkyries, famously used in the war film Apocalypse Now.

In other photos, troops are seen looking tired as they face straight ahead.

The MoD later released its own images of servicemen loading aircraft, as well as inside the evacuation hangar.

The department confirmed earlier on Saturday the final civilian rescue flight took off overnight.



A video showed the troops listening to Ride of the Valkyries as they sat inside the aircraft
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Image:

@TheParachuteReg)




All remaining RAF planes flying out of Kabul will now be carrying military and diplomatic personnel, despite many civilians remaining.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said: “It’s time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave.

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security.”



Operation Pitting has seen troops, diplomats and civilians evacuated
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Image:

JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




Thousands of refugees have been unable to reach the Taliban-guarded airport in time, with some too fearful to attempt it.

It comes after at least 170 people were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber outside the airport on Thursday.

Those killed included 13 US soldiers, two British civilians and the child of a UK national.



The British Ministry of Defence also released images showing UK military personnel onboard a A400M aircraft departing Kabul
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Image:

JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




The Taliban is understood to have sealed off the airport to most Afghans still waiting to leave as Nato nations continued to fly the last of their troops out after two decades.

The Pentagon said today it had carried out a retaliatory drone strike that killed two ISIS “planners and facilitators” and injured another militant in Nangahar province, eastern Afghanistan.

US officials described them as “high profile ISIS targets”.









General Sir Nick Carter told Sky News: “We should be holding our breath and thinking really hard of that last aeroplane.”

Operation Pitting – where more than 1,000 troops, diplomats, and officials were dispatched to Afghanistan to rescue UK nationals and Afghan allies after the seizure of the country’s capital by the Taliban – airlifted more than 15,000 people to safety across just over a fortnight.

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said now was “a moment to reflect on everything we have sacrificed and everything we have achieved in the last two decades”.



Troops board a A400M aircraft departing Kabul
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Image:

JONATHAN GIFFORD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)




British boots first hit Afghan soil in November 2001, as part of a coalition tasked with finding the leaders of al Qaeda in the wake of the deadly 9/11 attacks, the 20th anniversary of which is just two weeks away.

The Taliban was accused of providing a sanctuary for Osama Bin Laden and his al Qaeda movement, and by December the regime collapsed.

But nearly 20 years later, after 457 British service personnel lost their lives, Afghanistan is again under the control of the militant group, with the nation’s future uncertain.

While Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told troops on Twitter: “The UK should be very proud of what you have done. Every one of you have displayed the highest levels of professionalism and bravery.”




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