BRITAIN’S urgent operation to evacuate up to 4,000 British nationals, contractors and staff is underway as Taliban commanders “vowed to enter Kabul like a roaring lion”.
Hundreds of paratroopers are flying out this weekend to Afganistan to provide protection to those escaping as the religious fanatics close in on the capital.
Taliban commanders have “vowed to enter Kabul like a roaring lion” as their rampage towards the strategic stronghold, and capital of the country continues.
The Times reports one senior figure saying: “We will enter Kabul like a roaring lion soon, God willing, hopefully within this month and wrap up the American puppets who are already in a state of fear.
“Their silence on our triumphs in the south and west speaks for itself and they are hiding like cowards.”
It comes after Boris Johnson said last night it was not “realistic” to expect outside powers to impose a “combat solution” on Afghanistan.
Protecting British nationals and ensuring their safety as they leave Afghanistan is our top priority
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
He spoke after the Taliban seized large swathes of Helmand province, where hundreds of UK troops died over more than a decade of fighting that has seen 454 UK personnel killed.
Taliban forces are surging across the country at an alarming rate after Western forces abandoned the nation after 20 years of war and seemingly futile attempts at rebuilding it.
The fanatics now control two-thirds of the country, with the country’s second-largest city, Kandahar, falling to them.
The Ministry of Defence said Operation Pitting is underway, with members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, who will provide 600 troops for “force protection”.
The US is also sending 3,000 troops to facilitate the departure of its remaining nationals as the prospects for the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani look increasingly bleak.
A small team of Home Office officials is also flying out with the military to assist the remaining embassy staff in processing visas and other documentation needed for travel.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Protecting British nationals and ensuring their safety as they leave Afghanistan is our top priority.
“Over the next few weeks, we shall all do our very best to support the Afghan government and those that have worked with us over 20 years.”
Downing Street has said it would use whatever political or diplomatic levers it could — including the UK overseas aid budget — to try to ensure that Afghanistan did not become a breeding ground again for international terrorism.
It’s a source of great shame to many of us that the Taliban are now in the ascendancy
Dan Jarvis, Labour MP and veteran
But there was anger and frustration among MPs across the political spectrum at the way, they said, the country was now being abandoned to its fate, amid calls for Parliament to be recalled from its summer break.
Among the cities to fall in recent days is Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand where British forces were involved in some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict.
Across the country there have been reports of war crimes and atrocities, with forced marriages and women being brutalised as the militants’ advance continues.
Labour MP Dan Jarvis, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan as an officer in the Paras, said he had spoken to fellow veterans who were feeling “angry, frustrated, heartbroken” about the situation.
He said: “There’s a lot of people feeling really bad about how things have turned out.
“It’s a source of great shame to many of us that the Taliban are now in the ascendancy.”