Further 200 UK troops to be sent to Afghanistan

16 August 2021, 18:00 | Updated: 16 August 2021, 20:44

200 further British troops will head to Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
200 further British troops will head to Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a further 200 UK troops will be sent to Afghanistan amid chaotic scenes from the capital, Kabul.

The troops are to be sent to Kabul to assist with the evacuation effort in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The UK government is currently working to evacuate UK citizens and diplomatic staff, as well as former Afghan staff and their families.

However, efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan have been complicated by chaotic scenes at Kabul international airport. Thousands of Afghans have gathered at the airport, desperate to leave the country to flee Taliban rule. Flights have had to be stopped several times today while US troops attempt to maintain order and security.

Images have emerged of people attempting to cling on to the undercarriage of planes as they take off. US officials have confirmed that at least 7 people have died at the airport, several of which were shot by US troops as they approached them armed with guns.

The 200 UK troops will take the overall number deployed to Afghanistan to 900. Prior to this weekend, there were only 100 stationed there, before the government sent 600 as the inevitability of a Taliban takeover became apparent.

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The Ministry of Defence confirmed that more troops are being readied in case they are needed to ensure the safe evacuation of those eligible on the ground in Kabul.

Downing Street have announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to host a virtual meeting of G7 leaders on Afghanistan in the "coming days".

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said earlier today that 150 British nationals would be evacuated overnight. A further 350 UK citizens and Afghan nationals are to leave in the coming days.

He revealed that the extra deployment was the main subject of an emergency Cobra meeting this afternoon when speaking to broadcasters earlier today.

Mr Raab said: "Everyone, I think, has been surprised by the scale and the pace at which the Taliban have taken over in Afghanistan, and that's a lesson that we've all got to learn from.

"But the truth is what matters right now is focusing on getting British nationals out, getting out those who have so loyally served the UK, and making sure that the gains that we've made over 20 years are not lost."

Mr Raab arrived back in the UK on Sunday night after coming under criticism for remaining on holiday while the crisis in Afghanistan unfolded.

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Afghan nationals who've worked for the British government are also among those flying back in the coming days after the Taliban captured large parts of the country.

Around 4,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans are thought to be in the city and in need of evacuation.

Afghan nationals who have assisted allied forces, such as interpreters, have previously faced severe backlash from the Taliban, including being killed. British diplomatic staff are reportedly working at Kabul airport to process all Afghan applications, although Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC this morning that "some people won't get back".

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.