Families of Afghan veterans: withdrawal is a "callous betrayal by western governments"

16 August 2021, 17:02 | Updated: 16 August 2021, 17:04

As US troops seek to maintain control of Kabul airport, British families question whether their loved ones' sacrifices were worthwhile
As US troops seek to maintain control of Kabul airport, British families question whether their loved ones' sacrifices were worthwhile. Picture: Getty Images

By Elizabeth Haigh

Families and friends of soldiers who were tragically killed while serving in Afghanistan have criticised the government’s handling of the situation as the Taliban take Kabul.

Graham Knight, father of 25-year-old RAF Sergeant Ben Knight, said: "We're not surprised that the Taliban have taken over because as soon as the Americans and the British said they were going to leave, we knew this was going to happen.

"The Taliban made their intent very clear that, as soon as we went out, they would move in."

Mr Knight added that he had sympathy with Afghans, and understood the desperation shown in videos of citizens clinging to planes attempting to take off from Kabul's airport.

"I feel very sorry for them, they're obviously fighting for their lives. Anybody who feels like that is in a desperate situation. It's like Saigon all over again."

He also questioned the decision-making behind the UK government’s evacuation strategy.

"I think it was all started too late again. It (the evacuation process) should have started about a week ago."

"My main worry is some hothead American, or British hothead, will decide that the Taliban isn’t behaving how they want, shoot at them and that will be it."

READ MORE: 'Some people won't get back' Defence Secretary chokes up over Afghanistan

READ MORE: Afghanistan: First embassy staff and UK nationals arrive back from Kabul

Ian Sadler, who lost his 21-year old son Jack Sadler in 2007, attacked the UK’s confidence that Afghanistan would not fall for some time.

"Why did they think the Afghan national army would be able to keep the Taliban back based on just numbers alone? Why did our Government and allies have so much confidence in them?"

He added: "I don't think any of the British Governments - Labour, coalition or Conservative - have handled the situation in Afghanistan particularly well... The level of support given to our soldiers in Afghanistan was trivial.

"It wasn’t until we were out there for about 10 years that the urgent operational requirements came in. Why weren’t our soldiers equipped with mine-protected vehicles? We would have lost a lot less."

Paul Sweeney, a member of the Scottish Parliament, tweeted: "I'm thinking of one of my best friends who gave his life in Helmand Province on 30 April 2013 aged 25, and all that was lost. I'm thinking of his family. How to make sense of his death and the lives of so many others affected by 20 years of bloody struggle in Afghanistan."

"It is hard to avoid a sense of callous betrayal by western governments, a misunderstanding of how power operates in Afghanistan, and the ultimate futility of supporting a corrupt government in Kabul that carries little legitimacy among Afghans, who refuse to fight and die for it."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Greater Manchester Police announced the girl's body was recovered overnight

Teenage girl, 14, dies after getting into difficulty while swimming in Greater Manchester

Three people were shot in Dog Lane, Brent

Three shot in north-west London after wave of violence across the capital

Scotland has recently made it the law for public settings to provide period products - but has now caused anger after appointing a man as the first period dignity officer

'Someone's taking the p***': Fury as Scotland's first ever period dignity officer is a man

A massive blast erupted in Crimea

Massive explosion rocks Crimea in suspected Ukraine attack on Russian ammo dump

The Royal Navy is reportedly said to back out of patrolling the Channel to deter migrants

Royal Navy 'set to back out' of patrolling Channel against illegal migrant crossings

The real value of workers' pay has suffered its biggest drop in 20 years

Workers suffer biggest drop in real pay since records began as inflation continues to soar

People in the UK are being told to prepare emergency bags after some regions were hit by flash floods on Tuesday

'Pack an emergency bag': Brits warned to prepare for flash floods as thunderstorms set to batter UK

The incident happened at a hotel near the resort city of Antalya, Turkey

Holiday heartbreak after British boy, 14, drowns in hotel pool 'while celebrating family wedding'

Harry and Meghan 'won't meet' Wills and Kate on UK trip

No plans for royal reunion: Harry and Meghan 'won't meet' Wills and Kate on UK trip amid brothers feud

Trump claims FBI agents 'stole' three passports during raid

Trump claims FBI agents 'stole' three of his passports during raid at Mar-a-Lago

Heathrow airport to extend flight passenger cap

Heathrow airport to extend flight passenger cap until end of October half term in bid to limit chaos

Removal vans arrived at Downing Street

Removal vans arrive at Downing Street as Boris jets off for second holiday before departure

Rishi Sunak is 'the lesser of two evils', says ConservativeHome chief

Rishi Sunak is 'the lesser of two evils', says ConservativeHome chief

Peter Jenkins confessed to sexually abusing young girls over a period of two decades

Teacher who ran church holiday club jailed for string of child sex offences after he handed himself into police

Millions of Brits face fresh water restrictions as Londoners are expected to be hit by a hosepipe ban

Now London faces hosepipe ban: 24m Brits to be hit with restrictions 'by the end of the week'

Cornwall hit by flash flooding as thunderstorms sweep across the UK

Flash flooding and torrential rain sweeps into the UK as record breaking heatwave is washed away