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The final betrayal: The Afghan translators who helped Britain but can’t make it inside Kabul airport

Desperate translators last night told the Mail they feared they were being left to die in Kabul, unable to escape Afghanistan as the evacuation drive headed into its final hours.

The Afghan interpreters – who loyally served Britain on the front line defying threats to their safety – are terrified they are now stranded at the mercy of the Taliban.

Some are unable to reach Kabul airport as the Taliban turned increasingly violent at its checkpoints.

Others, already queuing, could not get through the airport with crowds of up to 10,000 converging ahead of America’s deadline to withdraw by August 31.

Britain said yesterday it still had 2,000 Afghan translators, related workers and their families to get out – and the likelihood is that there are only 36 hours left before its paratroopers have to begin packing up. 

Musa, 35, a former supervisor of interpreters for the UK military, said: ‘If we miss the flights and the airport closes, we could be left to die.  

Desperate translators last night told the Mail they feared they were being left to die in Kabul, unable to escape Afghanistan as the evacuation drive headed into its final hours. Pictured: Imam Wabab with UK military during a meeting with Afghan village elders

Others, already queuing, could not get through the airport with crowds of up to 10,000 converging ahead of America’s deadline to withdraw by August 31. Pictured: British and American security forces maintain order amongst the Afghan evacuees waiting to leave, in Kabul

Others, already queuing, could not get through the airport with crowds of up to 10,000 converging ahead of America’s deadline to withdraw by August 31. Pictured: British and American security forces maintain order amongst the Afghan evacuees waiting to leave, in Kabul

Britain said yesterday it still had 2,000 Afghan translators, related workers and their families to get out – and the likelihood is that there are only 36 hours left before its paratroopers have to begin packing up. Pictured: Chaotic crowds on the approach to Kabul airport

Britain said yesterday it still had 2,000 Afghan translators, related workers and their families to get out – and the likelihood is that there are only 36 hours left before its paratroopers have to begin packing up. Pictured: Chaotic crowds on the approach to Kabul airport

We must not leave ‘Our Imam’ behind 

A religious leader seen as a top Taliban target because of his key role with British forces has spent two terrifying days with his family outside Kabul’s airport waiting to be called for a mercy flight.

Imam Wahab was approved for sanctuary in the UK more than two months ago. But last night he was still hiding among crowds at the airport, fearing he may be left behind. British officers who worked with him during his nearly 15 years at the Camp Bastion UK base said he should be ‘saved as a priority’.

They said Wahab was a key figure advising on religious matters and overseeing 1,000 Afghans employed by the UK. Major James Bolter said: ‘He faces certain death if he remains…Wahab was working for the infidel in religious matters, which to the Taliban is the ultimate sin, and would make him gold dust as a target. To them, he is a traitor to his country and his religion. It is chilling to think what might happen to him.’

He stressed: ‘Wahab was our religious guide and also our shop steward among more than 1,000 Afghans.

‘His importance to us was massive and he has been sitting outside the airport for 48 hours with his wife and three daughters and two sons waiting to be called.’

UK-based former translator Hashmat Nawabi, who worked with the imam, said they had been in contact and ‘he was very, very frightened – and did not understand why he was waiting. He told me “If the Taliban find me and discover I was a mullah for British forces everyone will know my fate”.’

Mr Nawabi insisted: ‘Wahab was a very well-known figure in Helmand. Please rescue him and his family. The mullah must not be left behind.’

 

‘The Taliban will want their revenge and those who helped the Western forces are their target. I pray this is not us.’ 

Hussain, 48, who worked on the front lines in Helmand, said: ‘Those who do not escape will have been abandoned to their fate by those they risked their lives for. 

‘I am very frightened I may be among them.’

Campaigners said yesterday 60 interpreters had been blocked on security grounds and 20 were still waiting to hear if they qualified.

Another 40 have not responded to calls from the Afghan team handling their cases, raising concerns they are missing.

Musa, who was approved for sanctuary in Britain, waited yesterday for the phone to ring with instructions to go to the airport.

The father of three, who worked for more than four years with UK troops in Helmand, said: ‘I pray for the message to arrive… Soon it will be too late.’

Hussain, who was also approved for relocation here, said he and his family had waited in the crush two days for a flight from Kabul airport. 

He said: ‘We have visas but I fear the gate may never open for us.’

The Daily Mail has been fighting for the safe relocation of Afghan translators since 2015 through the award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign.

But it was only in April that the Ministry of Defence launched its Afghan relocation and assistance policy scheme which began to bring large numbers of former translators to this country.

But rather than sending a fleet of military planes to Kabul to collect as many interpreters as quickly as possible, defence officials opted instead for weekly flights.

 It meant that when the Taliban stormed into Kabul thousands of translators and their dependents were left stranded.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was criticised for not making a call to the then-Afghan foreign minister two days before the capital fell, which, said critics, could have meant more interpreters would have escaped.

UK tells stranded Afghans: Head to the BORDER not the airport due to ‘high threat’ of terror attack from Isis-K 

By Mark Nicol, John Stevens and David Williams for the Daily Mail 

Some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out, the Defence Secretary admitted last night.

As evacuation efforts entered their final hours, Ben Wallace appeared to signal in a briefing to MPs that there are few places left on British planes.

Questioned about what Afghans who have been offered student places or fellowships in the UK should do, he said: ‘If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option.’

Pressed by a Tory backbencher, Mr Wallace added: ‘I recommend that they try and make it to the border … because it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment.’

There was no suggestion however, that Afghans who have been told by western officials to travel to the airport for evacuation should alter that plan.

Some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out, the Defence Secretary admitted last night.

Some of those trying to flee the Taliban may be better off heading for the border rather than hoping for a flight out, the Defence Secretary admitted last night. 

Hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul

Hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul 

Pressed by a Tory backbencher, Mr Wallace added: ‘I recommend that they try and make it to the border … because it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment.’

Pressed by a Tory backbencher, Mr Wallace added: ‘I recommend that they try and make it to the border … because it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment.’ 

The frantic race to rescue the last 2,000 Afghan allies was underway last night as the Daily Mail learned all UK troops must leave Afghanistan by the weekend. 

Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans.

But the grim reality is that many hundreds – including heroic Afghan interpreters – will be left to the clutches of the Taliban after Tuesday’s deadline for international troops to leave. 

A US order that Britain must pull out its 1,000 soldiers and officials before the US begins its withdrawal has reduced the time available to process the final claims.

US commanders have also insisted on ‘two to three days’ to conduct a unilateral extraction of their 6,000-strong force, meaning the last UK troops are expected to fly out on Sunday.

The order came as the Taliban further tightened its grip on the airport, using checkpoints to block anyone not holding the necessary paperwork and demanding bribes from those who did.

Afghans and foreign citizens suffered beatings. Video footage showed an Australian with blood streaming down his face from a head wound after he was confronted by Taliban guards.

There were estimated to be 10,000 Afghans crammed outside the gates to the airport. UK commander Brigadier Dan Blanchford said they faced ‘harrowing and extreme conditions’.

Since the start of the operation, the RAF has flown out 11,474 people, including almost 7,000 vulnerable Afghans. It has evacuated more than 2,500 UK nationals, 341 British Embassy officials and around 1,000 nationals from 38 nations.

The figure of 2,000 awaiting rescue could rise, with the last freedom flight possibly tomorrow.

There are ‘special cases’ still to be processed – Afghans to be offered sanctuary in the UK due to the likelihood they will be targeted by the Taliban. British troops face an increased threat of a terrorist attack from jihadis.

Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans. In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster

Around 150 flights left Kabul airport yesterday as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the UK will use ‘every hour left’ to rescue vulnerable Afghans. In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster

There were estimated to be 10,000 Afghans crammed outside the gates to the airport. UK commander Brigadier Dan Blanchford said they faced ‘harrowing and extreme conditions’. Pictured: Afghans line up outside a bank to take out cash as people keep waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport

There were estimated to be 10,000 Afghans crammed outside the gates to the airport. UK commander Brigadier Dan Blanchford said they faced ‘harrowing and extreme conditions’. Pictured: Afghans line up outside a bank to take out cash as people keep waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport

At the airport, a young Afghan woman told the BBC that Taliban forces were treating the crowds of waiting civilians ‘like animals’. 

Before she boarded a flight, she said: ‘Today after three days, I finally got into the airport and I have my flight. It took us 18 hours to get through one of the gates .

‘The airport is completely surrounded by Taliban forces and they’re being as brutal as they can to the people. They’re shooting at people, they’re beating people.

‘I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I’m travelling to a safer country – anything right now is better than being in a country led by the Taliban. 

‘On the other, I’m leaving behind everything – my life, my work, my dreams, my hopes. I really desperately want to one day come back to Kabul and see Kabul free of the Taliban.’ 

Amid the horror, there was also humanity. A British officer described looking after a baby girl after she child became separated from her mother in the crush.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Caesar of 16 Medical Regiment, said: ‘We took her for a walk around our hospital, managed to burp her a few times. She seemed to settle.

At the airport, a young Afghan woman told the BBC that Taliban forces were treating the crowds of waiting civilians ‘like animals’. Before she boarded a flight, she said: ‘Today after three days, I finally got into the airport and I have my flight. It took us 18 hours to get through one of the gates.' Pictured: A C-17 Globemaster lll lands on the runway as evacuees from Afghanistan debark a C-17 Globemaster

At the airport, a young Afghan woman told the BBC that Taliban forces were treating the crowds of waiting civilians ‘like animals’. Before she boarded a flight, she said: ‘Today after three days, I finally got into the airport and I have my flight. It took us 18 hours to get through one of the gates.’ Pictured: A C-17 Globemaster lll lands on the runway as evacuees from Afghanistan debark a C-17 Globemaster

Two paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conduct security while a C-130 Hercules takes off during a evacuation operation in Kabul

Two paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conduct security while a C-130 Hercules takes off during a evacuation operation in Kabul

‘One of the challenges in this sort of environment is never really knowing who is going to come through the door. We have to be prepared for every eventuality.

‘Fortunately as a recent father myself I have a bit of experience in dealing with small children. She was later reunited with her mother before being evacuated.’ 

A heart-breaking announcement for those who remain is expected ‘imminently’, according to political sources. The crowds are expected to be told, perhaps today, that evacuations for civilians are no longer possible.

Raab denies he was ‘lounging around’ on holiday while Kabul fell 

Dominic Raab today denied he was ‘lounging around on the beach’ while Kabul fell as he defended his delayed return to the UK from a luxury break at a five-star resort in Crete.  

The Foreign Secretary arrived home on the evening of Sunday August 15 after he opted to work remotely as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated. 

Mr Raab said he was ‘engaged from a hotel room, my family was on the beach, not me’ and that he ‘checked in on them episodically’. 

The Tory frontbencher said ‘the stuff about me being lounging around on the beach all day is just nonsense’ as he insisted the ‘sea was actually closed, it was a red notice’.      

Mr Raab remains under pressure to quit over his handling of the crisis and this morning he admitted that ‘with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have gone away’.  

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said: ‘We are down to the last hours. It is vital we communicate with those waiting outside the airport to prevent panic and loss of life, confirming what has happened.

They will have to be told, sadly, that no more evacuation flights are possible ahead of the August 31 deadline and that, as from then, only military withdrawal flights will be taking off.’

It comes as US President Joe Biden sparked fury yesterday by ‘point blank’ refusing G7 calls to push back the exit date for US forces, with Washington of the belief that an extension would leave troops at too great a risk of attack from the Taliban or Isis.

His decision has angered some Tory MPs who have questioned Mr Biden’s ‘intellectual fitness’ to do the job, with one backbencher labelling the US President ‘gaga’.    

Meanwhile, over in the States, Biden also came under fire today from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused the Democrat president of ‘turning his back’ on his duties as commander-in-chief, on American citizens stranded in Afghanistan and on the local allies who helped US troops.

McCarthy criticised the president for walking away from a press conference about Afghanistan last night without taking any questions from the media.

‘He turned his back and walked away – an image that has come to define him and his presidency,’ he said.

‘He turned his back on our own citizens stranded in Afghanistan, he’s turned his back on our allies and partners, he’s turned his back on his duties as a Commander-in-Chief.’

And Biden could now face more backlash, as his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, appeared in a press conference tonight to blame Americans still on the ground for not leaving fast enough after first being warned earlier this year to leave Afghanistan.

He said: ‘For many years we have urged Americans not to travel there. We’ve repeatedly asked Americans who are in Afghanistan to enroll (at the embassy in Kabul). 

‘And since March of this year, we’ve sent 19 separate messages to American’s enrolled in the embassy, encouraging them and then urging them to leave the country. We’ve even made clear we would pay for their repatriation,’ he added. 

Dominic Raab admitted the evacuation mission is in its final desperate stages after US president Joe Biden (pictured) ‘point blank’ rejected G7 calls for a delay

Biden departs after delivering Afghanistan remarks Tuesday. He did not answer questions from reporters as he left the room

Blinken announced on Wednesday that up to 1,500 Americans - 500 who are verified US citizens - are still stuck in Afghanistan

Biden (left) departs after delivering Afghanistan remarks Tuesday. He did not answer questions from reporters as he left the room. Blinken (right) announced on Wednesday that up to 1,500 Americans – 500 who are verified US citizens – are still stuck in Afghanistan

Tory MPs join US Republicans in condemning President’s Afghanistan ‘betrayal’ as UK races to get last 2,000 people out in 24 hours – while America BLAMES its citizens for not leaving earlier 

The UK Government is now in a race against time to airlift nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for Britain out of Kabul amid a growing backlash at Joe Biden over his decision to stick to his August 31 withdrawal deadline.

The interpreters are understood to have been deemed eligible to come to the UK and have passed security checks but remain on the ground at Kabul airport.

The Pentagon briefed this afternoon that there are currently 10,000 people in total waiting at the airport for a flight out of the capital.

Mr Biden sparked fury yesterday by ‘point blank’ refusing G7 calls to push back the exit date for US forces, with Washington of the belief that an extension would leave troops at too great a risk of attack from the Taliban or Isis.

His decision has angered some Tory MPs who have questioned Mr Biden’s ‘intellectual fitness’ to do the job, with one backbencher labelling the US President ‘gaga’.

Meanwhile, over in the States, Biden also came under fire today from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accused the Democrat president of ‘turning his back’ on his duties as commander-in-chief, on American citizens stranded in Afghanistan and on the local allies who helped US troops.

McCarthy criticised the president for walking away from a press conference about Afghanistan last night without taking any questions from the media.

‘He turned his back and walked away – an image that has come to define him and his presidency,’ he said.

‘He turned his back on our own citizens stranded in Afghanistan, he’s turned his back on our allies and partners, he’s turned his back on his duties as a Commander-in-Chief.’

And Biden could now face more backlash, as his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, appeared in a press conference tonight to blame Americans still on the ground for not leaving fast enough after first being warned earlier this year to leave Afghanistan.

He said: ‘For many years we have urged Americans not to travel there. We’ve repeatedly asked Americans who are in Afghanistan to enroll (at the embassy in Kabul).

‘And since March of this year, we’ve sent 19 separate messages to American’s enrolled in the embassy, encouraging them and then urging them to leave the country. We’ve even made clear we would pay for their repatriation,’ he added.

It comes as last night Mr Biden warned the Taliban that it must ‘continue to co-operate’ with the US evacuation mission but there are growing fears that a crackdown by the group is already underway.

There are claims from people on the ground in Kabul that Afghans are being prevented by Taliban fighters from accessing the city’s airport for evacuation. Yesterday the extremists issued an edict banning nationals from leaving the country. They also blocked roads and set up check-points around Kabul airport.

Meanwhile, video footage emerged showing a bloodied man who claimed to be an Australian citizen who had apparently been beaten by Taliban guards as he tried to reach the airport.

Some 19,000 people were extracted from Kabul yesterday, taking the overall number since the operation began to 88,000, with the UK having brought more than 10,000 individuals – including more than 5,500 Afghans and their families – to Britain.

The Pentagon said evacuations will continue ‘all the way to the end’ but also warned that in the ‘last couple of days’ leading up to the withdrawal date ‘we will begin to prioritise military capabilities and military resources to move out’ in order to end the deployment.

And today Mr Blinken, went one step further, pledging to continue to support Afghans who wished to leave the country even after US troops had been withdrawn.

He admitted up to 1,500 Americans are still trapped in Afghanistan and looking for a way out, including at least 24 students from a California school district.

‘While evacuating American is our top priority, we are also committed to getting out as many Afghans at risk as we can, and that starts with our locally employed staff,’ he told a press conference in Washington today.

He added there was ‘no deadline’ on the country’s work to evacuate those who are eligible and want to leave Afghanistan, before following up on Mr Biden’s warning yesterday of the ‘very real possibility’ of an attack by terrorist group ISIS K.

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, this morning admitted the evacuation mission is in its final stages.

Mr Raab said the UK is working ‘as fast as we can’ to maximise the number of people who can flee, saying 2,000 were taken to safety in the last 24 hours and almost all single-nationality Britons are now out. He declined to say when the last UK flight will be leaving.

Former chief of the defence staff Lord Richards said he believes even after the last official flight the British military will ‘sneak others in who arrive late along with their own people’.

Mr Biden’s decision to stick with the withdrawal date has sparked Tory fury, with MP Bob Seely telling MailOnline: ‘If this does destroy Biden’s presidency, you have to question his fitness for the role.

‘You have got to question Trump’s moral fitness for the role, but you have got to address Biden’s intellectual fitness and health fitness for the role.

‘I’m sorry, he is just gaga… he doesn’t have a grip. How many slip ups before people think, yep, he can’t do the job.’

It comes as last night Mr Biden warned the Taliban that it must ‘continue to co-operate’ with the US evacuation mission but there are growing fears that a crackdown by the group is already underway.

There are claims from people on the ground in Kabul that Afghans are being prevented by Taliban fighters from accessing the city’s airport for evacuation. Yesterday the extremists issued an edict banning nationals from leaving the country. They also blocked roads and set up check-points around Kabul airport. 

Meanwhile, video footage emerged showing a bloodied man who claimed to be an Australian citizen who had apparently been beaten by Taliban guards as he tried to reach the airport.   

Some 19,000 people were extracted from Kabul yesterday, taking the overall number since the operation began to 88,000, with the UK having brought more than 10,000 individuals – including more than 5,500 Afghans and their families – to Britain.  

The Pentagon said evacuations will continue ‘all the way to the end’ but also warned that in the ‘last couple of days’ leading up to the withdrawal date ‘we will begin to prioritise military capabilities and military resources to move out’ in order to end the deployment. 

And today Mr Blinken, went one step further, pledging to continue to support Afghans who wished to leave the country even after US troops had been withdrawn.

He admitted up to 1,500 Americans are still trapped in Afghanistan and looking for a way out, including at least 24 students from a California school district. 

‘While evacuating American is our top priority, we are also committed to getting out as many Afghans at risk as we can, and that starts with our locally employed staff,’ he told a press conference in Washington today.

He added there was ‘no deadline’ on the country’s work to evacuate those who are eligible and want to leave Afghanistan, before following up on Mr Biden’s warning yesterday of the ‘very real possibility’ of an attack by terrorist group ISIS K. 

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, this morning admitted the evacuation mission is in its final stages.      

Mr Raab said the UK is working ‘as fast as we can’ to maximise the number of people who can flee, saying 2,000 were taken to safety in the last 24 hours and almost all single-nationality Britons are now out. He declined to say when the last UK flight will be leaving.

Former chief of the defence staff Lord Richards said he believes even after the last official flight the British military will ‘sneak others in who arrive late along with their own people’.

Mr Biden’s decision to stick with the withdrawal date has sparked Tory fury, with MP Bob Seely telling MailOnline: ‘If this does destroy Biden’s presidency, you have to question his fitness for the role.

‘You have got to question Trump’s moral fitness for the role, but you have got to address Biden’s intellectual fitness and health fitness for the role.

‘I’m sorry, he is just gaga… he doesn’t have a grip. How many slip ups before people think, yep, he can’t do the job.’

With an American pull-out now likely to be complete by the end of the month, other countries, such as the UK, which are reliant on the air support from US troops, now face a race against time to complete their own evacuations.

Last night the Pentagon confirmed that several hundred US troops had already started leaving Afghanistan – and allies including the UK will want to have their troops out well before the US leaves.  

The Pentagon said on Wednesday that US forces have ‘been very clear’ with the Taliban ‘about what credentials we are willing to accept’ for people trying to get to the airport.

‘By and large, with caveats’ people have been getting through checkpoints, spokesman John Kirby said, adding ‘we also have other means to get people in.’

‘When we have reports that someone credentialed is not being let in, we are making that clear to Taliban leaders they need to let them in,’ Kirby said.

It was also revealed that a military operation recovered ‘less than 20 people’ from Kabul under cover of darkness and brought them safely to the airport for evacuation.

Members of the GOP – the Republican Party – said on Tuesday night that Biden has ‘blood on his hands’ because thousands of American citizens and Afghan allies who helped U.S. troops could be left to die when the final evacuation flights depart – which could even be before midnight on Aug. 31 to ensure a safe evacuation of everyone at the airport.

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, who underwent a secret trip to Kabul to witness the situation at the airport for themselves, challenged President Biden and claimed that ‘we won’t get everyone out on time’. 

McCarthy and a slew of Republicans continued their criticism of Biden today.

The GOP have accused him of letting the Taliban ‘call the shots’ amid reports westerners and SIV applicants are getting stopped and beaten at checkpoints – despite Pentagon claims they are telling the insurgents who the ‘expect’ to be let through.

‘Joe Biden and his team are letting the Taliban call the shots,’ Senator Tom Cotton said on a Fox News radio show Wednesday morning.

His fellow GOP Senator Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter, ‘A President that abandons Americans in order to meet a deadline set by a medieval band of terrorists will forever be disgraced.’

Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina criticized Biden’s ‘disastrous decision’ to hold firm on his end-of-the-month deadline on Wednesday morning, which he said was ‘cemented by his administration’s prior ill-conceived timeline agreement with the Taliban instead of the conditions on the ground.’

Senator Lindsey Graham, who served with Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Biden and Taliban-mandated deadline will cost lives.

‘How could we create a deadline that is a death sentence to those who fought along our side?’ he questioned on Fox radio Wednesday.

‘There’s nobody to blame but Biden here,’ Graham said on Fox radio today, adding the U.S. is leaving ‘thousands of Afghans, most likely American citizens, and what we’re leaving behind is an Al Qaeda on steroids.’

Biden has committed the US to withdraw by August 31, a decision that western allies warn will mean thousands of Afghans who were promised sanctuary being left behind

Biden has committed the US to withdraw by August 31, a decision that western allies warn will mean thousands of Afghans who were promised sanctuary being left behind

People being taken out of Afghanistan on a Spanish military flight today as the clock runs down on the airlift

People being taken out of Afghanistan on a Spanish military flight today as the clock runs down on the airlift 

A Canadian soldier walking through an evacuation checkpoint in the chaos of Kabul yesterday

A Canadian soldier walking through an evacuation checkpoint in the chaos of Kabul yesterday

Families fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan board an aircraft at the airport in Kabul yesterday

Families fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan board an aircraft at the airport in Kabul yesterday 

Today Secretary of State Blinken said officials has been in ‘direct contact’ with roughly 500 Americans and ‘provided specific instructions for how to get to the airport safely.’ The State Department said there are roughly 1,000 other people whose status is still being established. 

‘We’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day,’ he said of those 1,000 people, adding they’re looking ‘to determine whether they still want to leave and to get them the most up-to-date information and instructions for them on how to do so.’

‘Some may no longer be in the country. Some may have claimed to be Americans but turn out not to be. Some may choose to stay,’ Blinken said

‘We’ll continue to try and identify the status and plans of these people in the coming days.’

The CIA meanwhile has been joining the US military in evacuation efforts, launching clandestine operations to rescue Americans in and outside of Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

It comes as defence sources last night said the UK could now wrap up its mission within ’24 to 36 hours’. The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Mr Raab, said he was unclear how many people will be left behind in Afghanistan. 

McCarthy tore into Biden for walking away from a Tuesday speech without taking questions or mentioning how many Americans were still in Afghanistan

McCarthy tore into Biden for walking away from a Tuesday speech without taking questions or mentioning how many Americans were still in Afghanistan

Raab denies he was ‘lounging around’ on holiday while Kabul fell 

Dominic Raab today denied he was ‘lounging around on the beach’ while Kabul fell as he defended his delayed return to the UK from a luxury break at a five-star resort in Crete.  

The Foreign Secretary arrived home on the evening of Sunday August 15 after he opted to work remotely as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated. 

Mr Raab said he was ‘engaged from a hotel room, my family was on the beach, not me’ and that he ‘checked in on them episodically’. 

The Tory frontbencher said ‘the stuff about me being lounging around on the beach all day is just nonsense’ as he insisted the ‘sea was actually closed, it was a red notice’.      

Mr Raab remains under pressure to quit over his handling of the crisis and this morning he admitted that ‘with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have gone away’.  

The Foreign Secretary said the figure depends on ‘the window’ left in terms of timing and how many people they manage to process over the next few days.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘It’s also how many want to come, as there are some finely balanced cases.’

Mr Raab said the details of how UK forces will withdraw were still being firmed up. There is speculation the British team will initially withdraw to the airport from the Baron hotel, where they have been processing applications. 

The UK contingent is then expected to hand over duties to the Americans, who will be the last to leave. 

‘The military planners are firming up the details of what the extra – the time they will need at the end to drawdown their own staff, personnel and equipment. We will get the details of that I’m sure, shortly,’ Mr Raab said.

‘We need to get that clear from the military planners, they are obviously working on that. Ideally we want to limit the period that they need for their drawdown to maximise the period for the civilian airlift, if you like. But that is something that they will need to provide the details on.’

Mr Raab tried to play down concerns about the Taliban obstructing extractions, saying that although trust was at ‘rock bottom’ there had been ‘constructive’ engagement.

‘They have, so far, in relation to the airport, behaved constructively and engaged constructively more or less.

‘There’s clearly reports and some of the people on the ground – roadblocks or elsewhere – are not following what the political leadership are requiring. But overall, one of the reasons that we have been able to get the numbers out through the evacuation is because we have engaged and they have lived up to some of the things that they have said. 

Hundreds of people are still gathering at checkpoints outside Hamid Karzai International Airport looking for a chance to escape after the Taliban announced that Afghan civilians would no longer be allowed to leave on the US-led mission

Hundreds of people are still gathering at checkpoints outside Hamid Karzai International Airport looking for a chance to escape after the Taliban announced that Afghan civilians would no longer be allowed to leave on the US-led mission

The Pentagon said a plane left the Kabul airport 'every 39 minutes' in the most recent update on evacuation numbers

The Pentagon said a plane left the Kabul airport ‘every 39 minutes’ in the most recent update on evacuation numbers

US soldiers stand guard at the airport tower near an evacuation control checkpoint. Reports of Taliban violence have surfaced as civilians and Afghans who aided US troops try to leave their country before the August 31 deadline

US soldiers stand guard at the airport tower near an evacuation control checkpoint. Reports of Taliban violence have surfaced as civilians and Afghans who aided US troops try to leave their country before the August 31 deadline

Kabul airport

Kabul airport

Desperate Afghans waded through a sewage ditch on the outskirts of Kabul airport this morning while pleading with soldiers guarding the opposite bank to put them on a plane out of the country as time runs out to flee Taliban rule

Kabul airport

Kabul airport

A lucky man is hauled to safety by a soldier (left) and allowed one step closer to freedom, but most were left wallowing in filth as their pleas fell on deaf ears with as little as 24 hours left until civilian mercy flights top

‘We need to then set further tests for them and be very clear about what we are willing to do, if and only if they live up to their assurances.’

Mr Raab also declined to comment on whether British troops would return to Afghanistan in the future.

‘I’m not going to speculate on that while we’re in the middle of withdrawals,’ he said.

‘The United Kingdom retains the right to exercise self-defence in relation to our nationals in our country. We’re not getting into speculating about that.’

Furious row breaks out over Kabul animal rescue flight as MoD denies claims from wildlife campaigners that PM’s wife played role

A furious row has tonight broken out over an animal rescue flight from Kabul amid claims the Prime Minister’s wife intervened to help get approval for the emergency airlift.

Boris Johnson is believed to have personally overruled his Defence Secretary’s desire to prioritise human over animal evacuations for Afghanistan.

Ben Wallace had been adamant that the Ministry of Defence would prioritise ‘people over pets’ as the Government scrambles to evacuate thousands of British nationals trapped at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul – which fell under Taliban control last week.   

But Mr Johnson is said to have overruled the policy following a ‘huge’ swell of public support calling Royal Marine turned charity boss Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing get 200 cats and dogs out of Kabul – where he runs an animal welfare centre.

Today animal rights campaigner Dominic Dyer, a friend of Mr Farthing, founder of the charity Nowzad, told MailPlus that the u-turn followed an intervention from the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson – a keen supporter of animal welfare issues.

But the claim was quickly dismissed by the Ministry of Defence, with a spokesperson reportedly telling Sky News that they were a ‘lie’.  

It comes after a Sky News video showed a Vauxhall hatchback entering a military cargo jet prompted a counter-blast from animal rights activists including comic Ricky Gervais and actor Peter Egan, who accused the Ministry of Defence of caring more about a car than ‘sentient animals’.

The Defence Secretary then announced in a flurry of tweets at 1.30am this morning that officials would allow Mr Farthing to leave on the chartered flight if he arrived at the airport with his staff and animals.

The U-turn is likely to raise questions about the extent to which Mr Johnson is personally managing the evacuation, and the role his wife – an animal rights advocate who also encouraged the Prime Minister to pursue his green agenda – is playing in the Afghanistan crisis.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk