Andrew Neil exposes ‘growing concern’ about UK military ability to rescue trapped Britons

Taliban representative reveals plans for Kabul to host

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Taliban fighters have entered the outer suburbs of Kabul, but insist they are waiting for “a peaceful transfer of power”. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is expected to resign, opening the way for a Taliban government.

Western nations are desperately attempting to evacuate their nationals, including embassy staff, from Kabul before the city falls.

The Taliban have said they won’t interfere with the evacuation, which is taking place via Kabul international airport.

Both the US and UK have sent troops to help bring their citizens and Afghans who worked with them, to safety.

However, according to Mr Neil there are worries over whether Britain has the resources to complete a prompt evacuation.

He tweeted: “As the Taliban reach the outskirts of Kabul there is a growing concern in Whitehall about our ability to mount a rescue operation of our nationals and their Afghan assistants.

“The Americans are deploying much more military assistance than us. But they’re just as worried.”

Sky News journalist Alistair Bunkall reports the RAF is desperately trying to find enough aircraft for the mission.

He said: “I hear there’s a mad scramble to find RAF aircraft from operations around the world so they can go to Kabul to help with repatriations.

“Initial plans were to start evacuating people on Thursday, that’s been scrapped. It’s a case of ASAP now.

“The original hope was for as many to leave via commercial means as possible. That’s now gone out the window – military aircraft will provide the bulk of lift.”

Joe Biden dispatched 5,000 American soldiers to support the US departure, whilst Britain has sent 600.

Over the past two weeks, the Taliban have conducted a lightning campaign across Afghanistan, seizing all the main cities other than Kabul.

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In many cases Afghan troops have either surrendered or fled, allowing huge quantities of equipment to fall into Taliban hands.

Earlier this year President Biden all US troops would be withdrawn, by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As US and NATO forces pulled back, the Taliban were able to make huge territorial gains in the Afghan countryside before they started seizing cities.

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Mr Neil also raised concerns about US intelligence, pointing out on Wednesday they believed Kabul could hold out for six to 12 months.

He tweeted: “This is what US intelligence was briefing only three days ago – Kabul could hold out for a year.

“As of this morning, the Taliban is already at the outskirts of Kabul and very close to collapsing.

“These “intelligence” officers sure know what they’re talking about.”

More than 450 British soldiers died serving in Afghanistan, making it Britain’s bloodiest conflict since the Korean War.

Many UK troops served in Helmand province, which has now been entirely overrun by the Taliban.
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