Afghanistan evacuation: We’re not going to save everyone we want, UK admits

West’s empty promises: How many people have we actually evacuated? 

America

The promise: At least 22,000 evacuees including US citizens and those holding visas

Aid groups had said 80,000 visas may need to be issued to keep Biden’s pledge to help all those who aided US forces in the country, but that promise has almost certainly been broken 

The reality: Just 7,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul in the last five days, the Pentagon said Thursday, despite there being capacity for up to 9,000 per day

Since the end of July, some 12,000 people have been airlifted out, including Embassy staff, citizens of NATO countries, at-risk Afghan nationals as well as Afghans with special visas  

Who’s left? That means to keep even its most-modest promises, the US has at least 10,000 more people to evacuate before the air bridge closes

Britain

The promise: The UK said it wants to evacuate 7,000 UK citizens and Afghan staff from the country

Prime Minister Boris Johnson then promised to take another 5,000 refugees this year as part of a scheme that will allow 20,000 to settle over five years  

The reality: Britain evacuated 2,163 people from Kabul between Sunday night and Friday morning, and is aiming to take out another 1,000 per day as long as flights can keep operating

In total, the UK has now taken some 3,800 people out of Afghanistan in recent weeks, including more than 600 UK citizens and thousands of Afghans covered by the resettlement scheme

Who’s left? To keep its most-modest promises, the UK must evacuate some 3,200 people – but up to 8,200 if the prime minister’s pledge to take refugees is to be met

 

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The UK will not be able to evacuate everyone it has promised sanctuary to from Afghanistan and the air bridge to Kabul airport may remain open for just a few more days, the armed forces minister has admitted today. 

Britain has promised to evacuate some 7,000 UK citizens and Afghan staff from the country, in addition to 5,000 refugees, but James Heappey said today that ‘that sad truth is, we don’t have it in our gift to stay there until absolutely everyone is out’.

‘The air bridge could last two more days, five more days, ten more days,’ he added, insisting that the armed forces are ‘working hard to maximise capacity’ on every flight while revealing 963 people were taken out of Kabul on British flights yesterday with 1,000 expected to be flown out today.

Meanwhile NATO said some 18,000 people have been flown out of the country since Sunday – far short of promises by western countries to take more than 100,000 Afghan refugees between them and even as some 50,000 crowd outside the airport gates.

One image laid bare the extent of the betrayal – showing what is thought to be a Norwegian mercy flight taking off from Kabul carrying the wife of a British ex-Marine who is still stranded in Afghanistan, but almost nobody else.

Posting the image on Twitter last night, Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing wrote: ‘Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty… scandalous as thousands wait outside Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right.’

Mr Farthing is one of dozens of westerners and visa holders who say they cannot get to the airport due to the huge crowds gathered around it, who are being brutalised by Taliban guards on a daily basis after the Islamists took over security.

Asila Wardak, human rights commissioner at The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said a male relative who was carrying travel documents got shot in the head outside the airport whilst begging the US to provide safe passage for all those it has promised sanctuary to so they can leave the country.

Meanwhile the Taliban has begun hunting through crowds at the airport and going door-to-door elsewhere in the country, looking for those who collaborated with US or NATO forces – torturing and executing those they find. 

General Haji Mullah Achakzai, police chief of Badghis Province near Herat, was gunned down in cold blood by Taliban fighters in disturbing footage posted online – while the relative of a German journalist was also shot to death by Islamist gunmen who were unable to find the reporter himself.

Nine ethnic Hazara men were also killed, Amnesty said, with six shot and three tortured to death – with one strangled to death using a scarf and one sliced to pieces with muscles stripped from his body.   

In other developments: 

  • Joe Biden said he can’t ‘recall’ if he was warned to maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan;
  • The US President insisted ‘no one is being killed’ during the chaos at the Kabul airport;
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed an armed resistance to the Taliban, which includes SAS-trained forces, in Afghanistan is forming in the Panjshir Valley;
  • Afghanistan’s biggest female pop star has escaped on a US flight out of Kabul as fears grow for women in the country after the Taliban’s vow to impose Sharia; 
  • Taliban militants are intensifying their hunt for people who worked with UK, US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, according to a confidential report to the UN;
  • The British Foreign Office issued a slew of action shots of Dominic Raab hard at work as he faced fury for failing to make a crucial phone call about Afghanistan while he was on holiday;
  • Women have led anti-Taliban protesters in Afghanistan today as they waved national flags in defiance of the Islamists to mark their country’s independence day.
A shocking image shows a near-empty evacuation flight taking the wife of an ex-Royal Marine commando out of Kabul as the Taliban block thousands of Afghans from entering the capital's airport. Paul 'Pen' Farthing said on Twitter: 'Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty… scandalous as thousands wait outside #Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right'

A shocking image shows a near-empty evacuation flight taking the wife of an ex-Royal Marine commando out of Kabul as the Taliban block thousands of Afghans from entering the capital's airport. Paul 'Pen' Farthing said on Twitter: 'Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty… scandalous as thousands wait outside #Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right'

A shocking image shows a near-empty evacuation flight taking the wife of an ex-Royal Marine commando out of Kabul as the Taliban block thousands of Afghans from entering the capital’s airport. Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing said on Twitter: ‘Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty… scandalous as thousands wait outside #Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right’

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul

General view showing people near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 19, 2021

General view showing people near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 19, 2021

General view showing people near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 19, 2021

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

Evacuees boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Kabul, August 18, 2021

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

US Marines assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit escort evacuees during an evacuation at Kabul airport

Westerners and visa holders trying to get to their flights say they are unable to get to the gates because of the crowd of up to 50,000 desperate locals who are gathering outside the airport and begging US and British troops to let them through

Westerners and visa holders trying to get to their flights say they are unable to get to the gates because of the crowd of up to 50,000 desperate locals who are gathering outside the airport and begging US and British troops to let them through

Westerners and visa holders trying to get to their flights say they are unable to get to the gates because of the crowd of up to 50,000 desperate locals who are gathering outside the airport and begging US and British troops to let them through

British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan getting on a RAF plane before being relocated to the UK

British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan getting on a RAF plane before being relocated to the UK

British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan getting on a RAF plane before being relocated to the UK

US troops at Kabul airport are using tear gas to control crowds of frantic Afghans who are trying to climb over to be put on evacuation flights. Footage shows shots being fired into the air in the darkness to disperse crowds

US troops at Kabul airport are using tear gas to control crowds of frantic Afghans who are trying to climb over to be put on evacuation flights. Footage shows shots being fired into the air in the darkness to disperse crowds

US troops at Kabul airport are using tear gas to control crowds of frantic Afghans who are trying to climb over to be put on evacuation flights. Footage shows shots being fired into the air in the darkness to disperse crowds 

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Taliban gunmen open fire at crowds outside Kabul airport today as westerners and visa holders say they cannot get inside because of ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ 

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Those on the ground say Taliban guards have little idea who to let inside the airport, while dishing out beatings, lashings and firing shots seemingly at random – causing further panic and chaos

Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul and are deciding who gets to come in and who has to stay out. Checkpoints have been set up on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west's ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west's ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

Babies were thrown over barbed wire towards troops at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get them out of the country as the west’s ignominious exit from Afghanistan continued

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A young girl is passed to US soldiers guarding Hamid Karzai airport amid a desperate scramble to get out of the country by tens of thousands of Afghans who don’t want to be ruled by the Taliban

A British soldier carries an Afghan girl away from crowds at the gate, as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today urged people not to pass their children to troops because they will not get a seat on flights out

A British soldier carries an Afghan girl away from crowds at the gate, as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today urged people not to pass their children to troops because they will not get a seat on flights out

A British soldier carries an Afghan girl away from crowds at the gate, as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today urged people not to pass their children to troops because they will not get a seat on flights out

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

Satellite images have revealed the extent of the crisis at Kabul airport, with cars crammed up against the southern civilian entrance and northern military entrance that can be seen from satellites

The Afghan teen who chose to die clinging to plane rather than live under the Taliban: Football player, 19, with an influencer-style social media profile is identified as boy who tried to cling to landing gear of US jet and was found dead in wheel 

This is the teenage Afghan national youth team footballer who died when he became trapped in the landing gear of a US evacuation flight in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban.

Zaki Anwari, 19, was born after the US drove the Taliban from Afghanistan and would only have heard about their rule from his parents while living under the western-supported regimes of Presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani.

He attended a prestigious international school in Kabul alongside the children of diplomats and his social media profile is one of an aspiring influencer, filled with western-influenced modelling style photos.  

His football team the Khorosan Lions reported that he had been among the teen’s videoed clinging to the side of a US C-17 transport.  

Mr Anwari’s remains were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 transport jet when it arrived in Qatar, after the plane had taken off from Kabul with despairing Afghans clinging to the fuselage on Monday.

Zaki Anwari attended a prestigious French-American school in Kabul alongside the children of western diplomats

Zaki Anwari attended a prestigious French-American school in Kabul alongside the children of western diplomats

Zaki Anwari attended a prestigious French-American school in Kabul alongside the children of western diplomats 

Zaki Anwari, 19, had played for the Afghan national youth football team

Zaki Anwari, 19, had played for the Afghan national youth football team

Zaki Anwari playing for they youth team

Zaki Anwari playing for they youth team

Zaki Anwari, 19, had played for the Afghan national youth football team

The athlete was among several people who died after clambering onto the aircraft as it took off, with harrowing video showing bodies tumbling to the ground as the jet climbed into the sky.

Two of those who died when they fell from the plane were reported to be teenage brothers who sold watermelon at Kabul’s central market. Aged 16 and 17, social media reports said the brothers routinely scavenged in the bins of Kabul’s markets to provide for their mother because the family was so poor. 

The horrifying scenes of so many young men sat on a fin below the plane’s turbine as it barreled down the runway, only to then fall hundreds of feet to their deaths, will likely become the defining image of Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.  

The United States Air Force later said that the pilots decided to go ahead with takeoff because the jet ‘was surrounded’ and there was a ‘rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft.’

Taliban fighters were seen shooting over the heads of crowds, striking people with rifles, while those on the ground reported beatings and whippings being dished out seemingly at random. Crowds have also gathered at the entrance to the military wing of the airport, which is guarded by US and British troops who have been firing into the air to disperse the crowds.

Westerners face a race against time to get out of Kabul, with control of the airport resting on the up to 60,000 troops. Joe Biden has said they will stay until all US citizens are evacuated, but there are suspicions among British troops that they could leave abruptly – leaving the 600 British unable to keep operating to evacuate UK nationals and interpreters. 

Farthing told MailOnline that British troops fired warning shots over the heads of a mother who was clutching a small baby. 

He said: ‘There were a number of shots fired overhead and people started rushing around in panic. I don’t know whether it was live rounds but even if it wasn’t the fear factor is the same. It does nothing to resolve the matter and makes an already tense situation much worse.’

While US and UK troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort, the Taliban are causing pandemonium and were filmed today shooting from the hip just yards away from women and children, and whacking people with the butts of their rifles. 

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country. 

 

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Taliban fighters have also been seen shooting over the heads of crowds at Kabul airport while striking people with rifles, as those on the ground reported beatings and whippings being dished out seemingly at random. Crowds have also gathered at the entrance to the military wing of the airport, which is guarded by US and British troops who have been firing into the air to disperse the crowds.

Westerners face a race against time to get out of Kabul, with control of the airport resting on the up to 60,000 troops. Joe Biden has said they will stay until all US citizens are evacuated, but there are suspicions among British troops that they could leave abruptly – leaving the 600 British unable to keep operating to evacuate UK nationals and interpreters. 

Farthing told MailOnline that British troops fired warning shots over the heads of a mother who was clutching a small baby. 

He said: ‘There were a number of shots fired overhead and people started rushing around in panic. I don’t know whether it was live rounds but even if it wasn’t the fear factor is the same. It does nothing to resolve the matter and makes an already tense situation much worse.’

While US and UK troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort, the Taliban are causing pandemonium and were filmed today shooting from the hip just yards away from women and children, and whacking people with the butts of their rifles. 

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country. 

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s job was hanging by a thread last night as it emerged the crucial phone call that was delegated to a junior minister never took place.

Tory MPs yesterday joined a ferocious backlash against Mr Raab over his failure to intervene while on holiday to help airlift translators out of Afghanistan. The Mail revealed yesterday that the Foreign Secretary had been advised by officials to interrupt his luxury trip to Crete on Friday to urgently contact his Afghan counterpart.

Mr Raab, however, failed to make the call and it was ‘delegated’ to the duty Foreign Office minister Lord Goldsmith. It was thought the telephone conversation had then taken place the following day.

But in an explosive development last night it emerged the call had never actually taken place. The Foreign Office admitted that as the Afghan regime collapsed, it had proved impossible to rearrange.

The revelation will intensify the pressure on Mr Raab, who yesterday faced a clamour to consider his position and resign.

Yesterday, he insisted he would not step down as he broke cover to hold a virtual meeting of G7 leaders. The Foreign Office released pictures of the Foreign Secretary at work and on the phone and said he was working to provide humanitarian assistance and support in Afghanistan.

Afghans who risked their lives by working as translators alongside British soldiers accused the Foreign Secretary of a ‘betrayal’ and warned that his failure to get urgent assistance could cost lives.

Angry Conservative MPs accused Mr Raab for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ and of lacking commitment to the job, with one Tory peer saying he should reflect on his future. Opposition parties meanwhile, said Mr Raab was guilty of a ‘dereliction of duty’ and called for him to be sacked.

Afghan translator Rafi Hottak, who was injured while alongside soldiers in Helmand, was among those to tell of his fury last night, saying: ‘It is a betrayal.

‘The priority should have been British citizens and those Afghans who helped them. They are trapped in chaos now and in the days and hours before the Taliban arrived anything that could have been done should have been done.’

And one angry Tory MP said: ‘Raab was asleep at the wheel. Backbench MPs are absolutely livid about his ‘not my problem guv’ attitude, as if it was not his responsibility. It has really riled up colleagues. The issue is not that he was on holiday, it is that he seemed to be unaware of what was happening.’

Last night, a leaked United Nations report warned the Taliban were now plotting murderous revenge against those Afghans who had worked with the West. The head of the group providing intelligence to the UN warned the Taliban were carrying out a highly-organised door-to-door hunt for people on their wanted list.

Female demonstrators took to the streets of Kabul waving the black, red and green flag which has become a symbol of defiance to the country’s jihadist rulers.

They were joined by thousands across the country who celebrated the 1919 handover of power from the British by rejecting their new overlords. It comes just a day after three were shot dead for flying the flag during protests.

The Taliban responded with beatings and gunfire while tearing down flags, despite their pledge to be a ‘reformed’ and ‘moderate’ version of the brutal outfit which controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Islamists fighters have also been celebrating independence day in their own fashion – by flying their black and white flag and claiming victory over American forces.

The chaos outside the airport appears to be growing by the day and is causing dangerous stampedes in which several people have already been killed this week, including a 14-year-old girl.  

Former British Marine, Mr Farthing, told MailOnline: ‘Two expats – one British and one Norwegian – have already been forced to turn back this morning because they can’t get through.

‘And last night a UN convoy carrying various foreign nationals, who had been working in Afghanistan for NGOs, had to turn round because of the sheer volume of people on the street.’

An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told ABC it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’ while Max Sangeen, a Canadian interpreter, said his wife and children – including a 20-day-old baby – are trapped in Kabul despite having the correct documents.

But it is not clear what western troops can do to help. There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport – alongside smaller numbers of Turks and Australians – but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.

The huge US contingent keeping the airport secured piles pressure on Britain to get its citizens out quickly, with the smaller UK force unlikely to be able the hold the site if the Americans leave.

UK embassy guards plead for their lives after being told they are ineligible for rescue because they were subcontractors 

Guards at the British Embassy in Kabul are pleading for their lives after apparently being told that they are ineligible for rescue because they were hired through an outsourced contractor.

Most of the 125-person team of security personnel received letters explaining they were not eligible for help because they ‘were not directly employed by Her Majesty’s Government’. Security for all British embassies globally was outsourced decades ago.

The guards at the Embassy in Kabul are employed by global security firm GardaWorld. Meanwhile, security personnel doing the same work for the now-closed US Embassy under a separate GardaWorld contract have been evacuated, and others are receiving support from the Americans. 

The guards are now pleading with the British Government to reconsider its decision to refuse their applications. One told the Guardian: ‘We worked in frontline positions, doing the most dangerous work to keep British officials safe. We risked our lives for them, and now we find ourselves in this bad situation – not just us, but our families are at risk.’  

The allegations are likely to put British ministers under further pressure to redouble efforts to evacuate as many people as possible. 

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Those on the ground say the Islamists have little or no idea what they are doing or who to let through, as the UN warned fighters are hunting through the crowd for those who collaborated with British or American forces so they can be ‘punished’ – despite public reassurances that there will be no reprisal attacks.

Mr Wallace said Taliban guards are allowing people with travel documents through checkpoints and British flights are not leaving the country empty – insisting that ‘not a single seat is wasted’. He revealed 120 people were evacuated this morning, with 138 due to follow later. 

There were eight RAF transport planes – made up of A400 Atlas, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemasters – scheduled to leave Kabul today. But with military transports able to carry up to 150, it means there will have been empty seats on the flights despite Mr Wallace’s claims. 

The passengers were made up of British citizens, media and human rights staff and Afghans who had worked for the British. The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were six British flights out of Kabul on Wednesday – despite Mr Wallace saying there were seven to 10 daily – meaning a maximum of 900 passengers were on board and free from the Taliban.

Meanwhile Joe Biden said when pressed Wednesday US troops were ‘going to stay’ in Afghanistan until they get American citizens out, even if it means running through an August 31 deadline order. The US President made the statement despite his own order soldiers will leave by the date, acknowledging the effort could run over if its citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan amid security and bureaucratic hurdles. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he expects 18 US flights to take off today, though it is not clear how many people will be able to board each plane.

But Farthing slammed the comments as naive, saying: ‘Nobody can actually reach [the processing centre] because of the crowds and the chaos surrounding it. 

‘It’s a lottery whether you get picked to get through the security. At the moment people who have seats booked on flights out of the airport are being turned back while others who storm fencing or are picked completely at random are getting on planes.

‘I’m livid at the Government’s mishandling of this, they need to take a moment, get their heads together, and work out a way with the Americans to help fly out ex-pats and those who need safety – like those who work for me – because otherwise we are looking at the worst humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan for a generation.’

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A smiling boy moves between US troops as he makes his way through a security checkpoint within Kabul airport on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

A Marine checks two civilians during processing through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint within the secure perimeter of the airport in Kabul on Wednesday

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

Civilians prepare to board a plane during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Troops fired gunshots and let off stun grenades at the entrance to the northern military side of the airport overnight in a vain bid to keep crowds of thousands from rushing the gates

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Tens of thousands of Afghans have gathered at the north and south entrances to Kabul airport in the hopes of securing a seat on western evacuation flights out of the country

Taliban is intensifying hunt for Afghans who worked for US and UK as they go door-to-door to threaten relatives, UN report warns despite the terror group’s claims of an ‘amnesty’ 

Taliban militants are intensifying their hunt for people who worked with UK, US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, according to a confidential report to the UN.

Jihadists are going door-to-door to threaten relatives of civil servants, interpreters and other consular staff, while other militants are even stopping people outside Kabul airport.

Despite the Taliban’s claims of an ‘amnesty’, terrifying video today showed fighters spraying assault rifle bullets just yards away from women and children gathered at the airport’s perimeter. 

The UN dossier leaked to The New York Times says the Taliban are ‘arresting and/or threatening to kill or arrest family members of target individuals unless they surrender themselves to the Taliban.’

It was filed to the UN by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group which provides intelligence on global conflicts.

It contained a letter dated August 16 from the Taliban to a senior counter-terror official in Afghanistan who had worked alongside the US and British officials.

The letter ordered the man to report to the Military and Intelligence Commission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Kabul. If he failed to do so, it warned that his family ‘will be treated based on Shariah law.’ 

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Fawad Ahmadzai, another Canadian interpreter, said he and his family – a wife and four children – had been forced to ‘fight’ their way through guards to get to the airport terminal – saying they ignored his Canadian travel documents, beat him, and shot at him. 

‘I was waving at them that I am a Canadian citizen,’ he said. ‘They didn’t even care about which passport I carry, they would only push us and hit us, and shooting ahead of us, scaring us so that we would leave.’

German national Vanessa Faizi, who had become trapped in Kabul after going to Afghanistan to visit family, spoke of violence at the airport before she managed to get a flight out. 

‘We saw children being trampled on,’ she told journalists at an airport back in Germany.

Mr Wallace urged Afghan women not to pass babies to soldiers, saying unaccompanied children will not be put on flights. He did not say where the children will end up instead. 

Elsewhere, Biden continued to defend his decision to withdraw – insisting chaos was inevitable while dismissing footage of people falling to their deaths from US planes as happening ‘four or five days ago’.

Boris Johnson was also mauled over the British government’s response to the crisis in a Commons debate, while foreign secretary Dominic Raab was facing calls to resign after it emerged he failed to make a crucial phone call about getting Afghan translators out of the country – delegating to a junior minister.

Labour MP Tom Tugendhat summed up the feeling of dismay when he said: ‘This is what defeat looks like.’  

Mr Wallace also warned of the long-term damage the retreat from Afghanistan will do to the perception of western power, saying the scenes playing out in Kabul will encourage enemies in Moscow.

‘What I’m uncomfortable with is that we have a world order now, where resolve is perceived by our adversaries as weak, the West’s resolve,’ Wallace told BBC TV.

‘That is something we should all worry about: if the West is seen not to have resolve and it fractures, then our adversaries like Russia find that encouraging,’ Wallace told LBC radio.

Britain fears the Taliban’s return and the vacuum left by the West’s chaotic withdrawal will allow militants from al Qaeda to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, just 20 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

As the airlift of Western citizens and Afghans who worked for foreign governments sought to ramp up, Biden said US forces will remain until the evacuation of Americans was finished, even if that meant staying past the August 31 deadline for complete withdrawal.

In total, at least 8,000 people have been evacuated since Sunday, a Western security source in Kabul said.

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

Afghan women lead protesters through the streets of Kabul on Thursday as they mark independence day with a show of defiance against the Taliban

Hundreds were pictured marching national flag banners through the streets of Kabul, while more protests also took place in Khost, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces

Hundreds were pictured marching national flag banners through the streets of Kabul, while more protests also took place in Khost, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces

Hundreds were pictured marching national flag banners through the streets of Kabul, while more protests also took place in Khost, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces

Women led independence day protesters through the streets of Kabul today, waving the black, red and green national flag in defiance of the country's new Taliban rulers

Women led independence day protesters through the streets of Kabul today, waving the black, red and green national flag in defiance of the country's new Taliban rulers

Women led independence day protesters through the streets of Kabul today, waving the black, red and green national flag in defiance of the country’s new Taliban rulers

Protesters fly the Afghan national flag behind a truck full of armed Taliban fighters in a brazen show of defiance

Protesters fly the Afghan national flag behind a truck full of armed Taliban fighters in a brazen show of defiance

Protesters fly the Afghan national flag behind a truck full of armed Taliban fighters in a brazen show of defiance

Taliban fighters whip women at the airport

Taliban fighters whip women at the airport

Taliban fighters whip women at the airport

Taliban fighters whip women at the airport

Taliban fighters have been filmed whipping women near Kabul airport as witnesses told MailOnline that the Islamists have been dealing out brutal beatings at random

Afghan citizens granted refuge by Britain disembark an RAF C-17 transport plane in Dubai on Thursday, before boarding a civilian transport plane to take them to the UK

Afghan citizens granted refuge by Britain disembark an RAF C-17 transport plane in Dubai on Thursday, before boarding a civilian transport plane to take them to the UK

Afghan citizens granted refuge by Britain disembark an RAF C-17 transport plane in Dubai on Thursday, before boarding a civilian transport plane to take them to the UK

Afghan citizen granted sanctuary by the UK disembark a C-17 transport plane in Dubai. Some 138 people were scheduled to be on the flight, though it is not clear how many made it

Afghan citizen granted sanctuary by the UK disembark a C-17 transport plane in Dubai. Some 138 people were scheduled to be on the flight, though it is not clear how many made it

Afghan citizen granted sanctuary by the UK disembark a C-17 transport plane in Dubai. Some 138 people were scheduled to be on the flight, though it is not clear how many made it

A British C-17 military transport taking Afghan refugees out of the country lands in Dubai on Thursday afternoon

A British C-17 military transport taking Afghan refugees out of the country lands in Dubai on Thursday afternoon

A British C-17 military transport taking Afghan refugees out of the country lands in Dubai on Thursday afternoon

Afghan women defy the Taliban on second day of protests as thousands take to the streets waving the national flag to mark Afghan independence day – after Islamists killed three demonstrators yesterday 

Women have led anti-Taliban protesters in Afghanistan today as they waved national flags in defiance of the Islamists to mark their country’s independence day.

Female demonstrators took to the streets of Kabul waving the black, red and green flag which has become a symbol of defiance to the country’s jihadist rulers.

They were joined by thousands across the country who celebrated the 1919 handover of power from the British by rejecting their new overlords. It comes just a day after three were shot dead for flying the flag during protests.

The Taliban responded with beatings and gunfire while tearing down flags, despite their pledge to be a ‘reformed’ and ‘moderate’ version of the brutal outfit which controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Islamists fighters have also been celebrating independence day in their own fashion – by flying their black and white flag and claiming victory over American forces. 

 

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A day earlier armed Taliban members prevented people from getting into the airport compound.

‘It’s a complete disaster. The Taliban were firing into the air, pushing people, beating them with AK47s,’ said one person who was trying to get through on Wednesday.

A Taliban official said commanders and soldiers had fired into the air to disperse crowds outside Kabul airport, but told Reuters: ‘We have no intention to injure anyone.’

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said domestic air carriers and civilian pilots will be allowed to fly into Kabul to conduct evacuation or relief flights only with prior US Defense Department approval.

Facing a barrage of criticism over the US withdrawal, Biden said chaos was inevitable. Asked in an interview with ABC News if the exit of US troops could have been handled better, Biden said: ‘No. … The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.’

A new government to replace that of President Ashraf Ghani, who is in exile in the United Arab Emirates, may take the form of a ruling council, with Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in overall charge, a senior member of the group said.

Afghanistan would not be a democracy. ‘It is sharia law and that is it,’ Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior Taliban official, told Reuters.

Ghani, who has been bitterly criticised by former ministers for leaving Afghanistan as Taliban forces swept into Kabul on Sunday, said he had followed the advice of government officials. He denied reports he took large sums of money with him.

‘If I had stayed, I would be witnessing bloodshed in Kabul,’ Ghani said in a video streamed on Facebook.

Meanwhile the Taliban celebrated Afghanistan’s Independence Day on Thursday by declaring it had beaten ‘the arrogant of power of the world’ in the United States, but challenges to their rule ranging from running the country’s frozen government to potentially facing armed opposition began to emerge.

From ATMs being out of cash to worries about food across this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports, the Taliban face all the challenges of the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed. 

An Afghan evacuation flight lands at an airport in the Midlands today, as the UK continues to evacuate hundreds of people every day from the country

An Afghan evacuation flight lands at an airport in the Midlands today, as the UK continues to evacuate hundreds of people every day from the country

An Afghan evacuation flight lands at an airport in the Midlands today, as the UK continues to evacuate hundreds of people every day from the country 

Afghan refugees arrive in the UK at a Midlands airport after being flown out of Afghanistan when it fell to the Taliban

Afghan refugees arrive in the UK at a Midlands airport after being flown out of Afghanistan when it fell to the Taliban

Afghan refugees arrive in the UK at a Midlands airport after being flown out of Afghanistan when it fell to the Taliban

Refugees make their way into the arrivals hall of an airport in the Midlands after being flown out of Afghanistan

Refugees make their way into the arrivals hall of an airport in the Midlands after being flown out of Afghanistan

Refugees make their way into the arrivals hall of an airport in the Midlands after being flown out of Afghanistan

An image issued by the UK government shows Afghan refugees arriving at an airport in the Midlands today

An image issued by the UK government shows Afghan refugees arriving at an airport in the Midlands today

An image issued by the UK government shows Afghan refugees arriving at an airport in the Midlands today

Turkish citizens and Afghans with visas to enter Turkey sit on board a military evacuation flight out of Kabul airport

Turkish citizens and Afghans with visas to enter Turkey sit on board a military evacuation flight out of Kabul airport

Turkish citizens and Afghans with visas to enter Turkey sit on board a military evacuation flight out of Kabul airport

Turkish soldiers load up luggage on the runway at Kabul airport as they evacuate people from Afghanistan

Turkish soldiers load up luggage on the runway at Kabul airport as they evacuate people from Afghanistan

Turkish soldiers load up luggage on the runway at Kabul airport as they evacuate people from Afghanistan

Western nations have been accused of leaving people behind as evacuation flights take off from Kabul half-empty. Pictured are Afghan women and children disembarking a Spanish flight that had 50 people on board, despite having room for over 100

Western nations have been accused of leaving people behind as evacuation flights take off from Kabul half-empty. Pictured are Afghan women and children disembarking a Spanish flight that had 50 people on board, despite having room for over 100

Western nations have been accused of leaving people behind as evacuation flights take off from Kabul half-empty. Pictured are Afghan women and children disembarking a Spanish flight that had 50 people on board, despite having room for over 100

Afghan women disembark from a Spanish Airbus A-400M plane that had 'just over 50 people' on board despite having capacity for 150, at Torrejon de Ardoz air base near Madrid

Afghan women disembark from a Spanish Airbus A-400M plane that had 'just over 50 people' on board despite having capacity for 150, at Torrejon de Ardoz air base near Madrid

Afghan women disembark from a Spanish Airbus A-400M plane that had ‘just over 50 people’ on board despite having capacity for 150, at Torrejon de Ardoz air base near Madrid

Spain's Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares (centre left) and Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva (centre right) escort Afghan evacuees off the first flight to arrive from Afghanistan to Spain

Spain's Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares (centre left) and Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva (centre right) escort Afghan evacuees off the first flight to arrive from Afghanistan to Spain

Spain’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares (centre left) and Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva (centre right) escort Afghan evacuees off the first flight to arrive from Afghanistan to Spain

Afghan men, women and children disembark from the first evacuation flight to land in Spain as the west pulls out of Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting

Afghan men, women and children disembark from the first evacuation flight to land in Spain as the west pulls out of Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting

Afghan men, women and children disembark from the first evacuation flight to land in Spain as the west pulls out of Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting

An Airbus A-400M military transport plane with 'just over 50' evacuees from Afghanistan lands in Spain overnight

An Airbus A-400M military transport plane with 'just over 50' evacuees from Afghanistan lands in Spain overnight

An Airbus A-400M military transport plane with ‘just over 50’ evacuees from Afghanistan lands in Spain overnight

Afghanistan’s biggest pop star flees amid fears captured female governor will be executed

The Taliban have said there won’t be democracy because ‘it is sharia law and that is it,’ as desperate Afghans, including the country’s biggest pop star, flee the country.

Spokesman Waheedullah Hashimi told Reuters: ‘There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country.

‘We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.’

Aryana Sayeed, a singer and judge on the Afghan version of The Voice, was one of those fortunate to escape the country on a US cargo jet on Wednesday.

‘I am well and alive and after a couple of unforgettable nights, I have reached Doha, Qatar and am awaiting my eventual flight back home to Istanbul,’ the 36-year-old told her 1.3 million Instagram followers.

Ms Sayeed later posted an update showing that she had flown onward to Turkey. 

She said: ‘After I get home and my mind and emotions return back to normal from a world of disbelief and shock, I have many stories to share with you.’ 

But other prominent women like Salima Mazari, one of the country’s first female governors, have already been rounded up and arrested. 

Ms Mazari was an outspoken critic of the Taliban during her time as governor of the Hazara district and there are fears that the jihadists may execute her.

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The Taliban so far have offered no plans for the government they plan to lead, other than to say it will be guided by Shariah, or Islamic, law. But the pressure continues to grow.

‘A humanitarian crisis of incredible proportions is unfolding before our eyes,’ warned Mary Ellen McGroarty, the head of the World Food Program in Afghanistan.

Thursday marked Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which commemorates the 1919 treaty that ended British rule in the central Asian nation.

‘Fortunately, today we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain,’ the Taliban said. ‘We at the same time as a result of our jihadi resistance forced another arrogant of power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan.’

Unacknowledged by the insurgents, however, was their violent suppression of a protest Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, which saw demonstrations lower the Taliban’s flag and replace it with Afghanistan’s tricolor. At least one person was killed.

While urging people to return to work, most government officials remain hiding in their homes or attempting to flee the Taliban.

Questions remain over Afghanistan’s $9 billion foreign reserves, the vast majority now apparently frozen in the US. The country’s Central Bank head warns the country’s supply of physical US dollars is ‘close to zero,’ which will see inflation raise the prices of needed food while depreciating its currency, the afghani.

In another blow to the country, a drought has seen over 40 per cent of the country’s crop lost, McGroarty said. Many fled the Taliban advance and now live in parks and open spaces in Kabul.

‘This is really Afghanistan’s hour of greatest need, and we urge the international community to stand by the Afghan people at this time,’ she said.

Two of Afghanistan’s key border crossings with Pakistan, Torkham near Jalalabad and Chaman near Spin Boldak, are now open for cross-border trade.

Hundreds of trucks have passed through, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

But traders still fear insecurity on the roads, confusion over customs duties and pressures to price their goods even higher given the economic conditions.

There has been no armed opposition to the Taliban. But videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the US during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering there. That area is in the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban.

Those figures include members of the deposed government – Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who asserted on Twitter that he is the country’s rightful president, and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi – as well as Ahmad Massoud, the son of the slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post, Massoud asked for weapons and aid to fight the Taliban.

‘A little girl is dead because the world turned away from us’: The Afghan girl, 14, who was trampled to death in stampede at Kabul airport

High school student Marzia Rahmati, 14, was killed in a stampede as gunfire rang out at Kabul airport on Monday

High school student Marzia Rahmati, 14, was killed in a stampede as gunfire rang out at Kabul airport on Monday

High school student Marzia Rahmati, 14, was killed in a stampede as gunfire rang out at Kabul airport on Monday

The family of a 14-year-old girl killed in a stampede at Kabul Airport have released this shocking photograph of her shrouded body to draw attention to the plight of the Afghans desperate to leave the country.

High school student Marzia Rahmati dreamt of a new life outside Afghanistan with her parents and younger siblings and the family had secured visas to travel to nearby Tajikistan, where they had relatives.

Marzia is believed to be one of the youngest of the 12 victims who have died in the disorder at Kabul Airport since the Taliban took over.

But when the crowd panicked at the sound of gunfire on Monday, just hours after the Taliban seized Kabul, Marzia became separated from her parents and fell to the ground, suffering multiple internal injuries as she was trampled to death.

Her aunt, Zakia Ahmadi, 28, said the family were ‘devastated’ by her death but added: ‘We want people to see what is really happening here right now, a little girl is dead because the world turned away from us.

‘My sister Fatima, Marzia’s mother, and her family wanted their daughter to continue her education, and were worried that wouldn’t be possible under the Taliban?

‘They had all the right documents to leave the country, but in all the chaos at the airport, they didn’t have a chance. The crowd was rushing all over the place and then there was gunfire and everyone panicked.

‘Marzia’s father Mustafa and her mother were protecting their two younger children, a boy and a girl when the people started running and Marzia became separated from them and was knocked down in the rush.

‘When her father got to her she was barely alive and he carried her for a long time before they were able to get medical help.

‘She received a lot of bruises all over her and there was internal bleeding, and in hospital they put cotton wool to absorb the blood coming from her nose and mouth, but she died soon after arriving there.’

Marzia’s mother Fatima, 32, was also injured in the crush, but later released from hospital.

Zakia said her niece, a gifted student, was a year 9 pupil at a girls’ school and dreamed of being a teacher. Her father Mustafa, 38, worked for a local NGO as a programme coordinator.

She added: ‘The family were so desperate to get out of the country that they took Marzia out of school, missing exams, because they thought this might be their last chance to leave. Now they are broken. ‘

Footage shared by Marzia's family shows crowds at the airport panicking as gunshots are heard and a US soldier can be heard shouting: 'Get the f*** down'

Footage shared by Marzia's family shows crowds at the airport panicking as gunshots are heard and a US soldier can be heard shouting: 'Get the f*** down'

Crowds at Kabul airport on Monday

Crowds at Kabul airport on Monday

Footage shared by Marzia’s family shows crowds at the airport panicking as gunshots are heard and a US soldier can be heard shouting: ‘Get the f*** down’

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Taliban fighters pose for photographers with their weapons as they patrol the streets of Kabul, amid reports they are hauling away British and American collaborators for 'punishment'

Taliban fighters pose for photographers with their weapons as they patrol the streets of Kabul, amid reports they are hauling away British and American collaborators for 'punishment'

Taliban fighters pose for photographers with their weapons as they patrol the streets of Kabul, amid reports they are hauling away British and American collaborators for ‘punishment’

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

Taliban fighters flying their flag drive through the centre of Kabul as they try to maintain security in the capital

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, after retaking control of Afghanistan

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, after retaking control of Afghanistan

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, after retaking control of Afghanistan

A plane of Polish airlines LOT (Embraer 195, Tail number SP-LNL) with evacuated refugees from Afghanistan lands at the Okecie airport in Warsaw today

A plane of Polish airlines LOT (Embraer 195, Tail number SP-LNL) with evacuated refugees from Afghanistan lands at the Okecie airport in Warsaw today

A plane of Polish airlines LOT (Embraer 195, Tail number SP-LNL) with evacuated refugees from Afghanistan lands at the Okecie airport in Warsaw today

Passengers disembark from a military plane after being evacuated from Kabul, at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Thursday morning

Passengers disembark from a military plane after being evacuated from Kabul, at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Thursday morning

Passengers disembark from a military plane after being evacuated from Kabul, at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Thursday morning

People leave a NATO C-17 plane at the airport in Tbilisi, Georgia, after catching a NATO evacuation flight from Kabul

People leave a NATO C-17 plane at the airport in Tbilisi, Georgia, after catching a NATO evacuation flight from Kabul

People leave a NATO C-17 plane at the airport in Tbilisi, Georgia, after catching a NATO evacuation flight from Kabul

A C-17 military jet lands at Amsterdam's Schipol airport carrying the first batch of evacuees from Afghanistan

A C-17 military jet lands at Amsterdam's Schipol airport carrying the first batch of evacuees from Afghanistan

A C-17 military jet lands at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport carrying the first batch of evacuees from Afghanistan

An Air France flight lands at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as the first batch of French evacuees touch down

An Air France flight lands at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as the first batch of French evacuees touch down

An Air France flight lands at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as the first batch of French evacuees touch down

Afghan women and children walk down an air bridge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after being evacuated

Afghan women and children walk down an air bridge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after being evacuated

Afghan women and children walk down an air bridge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after being evacuated

Afghan president defends his decision to flee

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he left Kabul to prevent bloodshed as he denied reports he took large sums of money with him as he departed the presidential palace.

Ghani, who confirmed he was in the United Arab Emirates, said he was in ‘consultation’ to return to Afghanistan after he met a barrage of bitter criticism by former ministers for leaving the country suddenly as Taliban forces entered the capital on Sunday.

But the United States – Ghani’s most important ally – reiterated today that it did not see Ghani as a player in the region, after the ousted president vowed to return.

‘He is no longer a figure in Afghanistan,’ Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters as she declined to comment on the United Arab Emirates’ decision to grant him asylum.

Speaking from exile today, in his first public comment since it was confirmed he was in the UAE, Ghani said he had left on the advice of government officials, telling viewers through a video streamed on Facebook: ‘If I had stayed, I would be witnessing bloodshed in Kabul.’

Ghani said that he had been attempting to stop Afghanistan turning ‘into another Yemen of Syria’, and he insisted allegations that he had left the country with a large amount of money were ‘baseless’ and ‘lies’.

Reports had earlier suggested that Ghani fled with $169million in his cash-stuffed helicopter and has been given asylum in Dubai on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

He said there was no truth to allegations that he escaped with ‘suitcases of cash’, saying it was all part of a ‘personality assassination’.

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He wrote: ‘I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban.

‘The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again.’

Afghan protesters defied the Taliban for a second day today, waving their national flag in scattered demonstrations that were met with renewed violence by the militants who are facing growing challenges to their rule.

A UN official warned of dire food shortages in this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports and experts said the country was severely short on cash, highlighting that the Taliban face the same problems as the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed.

In light of these challenges, the militants have moved quickly to suppress any dissent, despite their promises they have become more moderate since they last imposed draconian rule on Afghanistan. Many fear the Taliban will succeed in erasing two decades of efforts to expand women’s and human rights and remake the country.

A procession of cars and people near Kabul’s airport carried long black, red and green banners in honor of the Afghan flag – a banner that is becoming a symbol of defiance since the militants have their own flag. At another protest in Nangarhar province, video posted online showed one demonstrator with a gunshot wound bleeding, as onlookers tried to carry him away.

In Khost province, Taliban authorities instituted a 24-hour curfew Thursday after violently breaking up another protest, according to information obtained by journalists monitoring from abroad. The militants did not immediately acknowledge the demonstration or the curfew.

Protesters also took the streets in Kunar province, according to witnesses and social media videos that lined up with reporting by The Associated Press.

The demonstrations – which come as Afghans mark the Independence Day holiday that commemorates the 1919 treaty that ended British rule – were a remarkable show of defiance after the insurgents violently dispersed a protest Wednesday. At that rally, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, demonstrators lowered the Taliban’s flag and replace it with Afghanistan’s tricolor. At least one person was killed.

Meanwhile, opposition figures gathering in the last area of the country not under Taliban rule talked of launching an armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance, which allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion.

It was not clear how serious a threat they posed given that the militants overran nearly the entire country in a matter of days with little resistance from Afghan forces.

The Taliban so far have offered no specifics on how they will lead, other than to say they will be guided by Shariah, or Islamic, law. They are in talks with senior officials of previous Afghan governments. But they face an increasingly precarious situation.

American troops stand guard at Hamid Karzai airport in Afghanistan as evacuations from the country continue

American troops stand guard at Hamid Karzai airport in Afghanistan as evacuations from the country continue

American troops stand guard at Hamid Karzai airport in Afghanistan as evacuations from the country continue

A US Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

A US Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

A US Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

The US has so-far evacuated some 2,000 people from Afghanistan and is hoping to evacuate 20,000 more in an operation that could last for weeks

The US has so-far evacuated some 2,000 people from Afghanistan and is hoping to evacuate 20,000 more in an operation that could last for weeks

The US has so-far evacuated some 2,000 people from Afghanistan and is hoping to evacuate 20,000 more in an operation that could last for weeks

‘We haven’t sent out a single empty plane so far’: Ben Wallace insists ‘not one seat is wasted’ on RAF flights out of Kabul despite scenes of carnage at airport – with 250 more families set to be evacuated today

Ben Wallace today insisted the UK has not flown any empty planes out of Kabul despite carnage at the airport and fears the Taliban are blocking access.

The Defence Secretary said Western forces were working together to ensure that ‘not a single seat is wasted’ on the evacuation flights.

He said ‘the Taliban are letting through our people’ with 120 families being airlifted today, and another 138 families to follow later.  

Mr Wallace stressed the desperate efforts to get people out will continue as long as US forces are in charge of the airport – with Joe Biden suggesting he could keep troops in place beyond his previous August 31 deadline.

Responding to reports that evacuation flights to other countries had left with only a handful of people on board, Mr Wallace told Times Radio: ‘Our people are getting through, we haven’t sent a single empty plane home.

‘And I don’t think many other nations have. I can’t speak for other nations, obviously, but fundamentally, the key here is when we have a plane if we have a single empty seat, we will offer it to other nations.

‘We’ve taken out interpreters who work for Nato, for example, we’ve taken out fellow European or other… we took some Japanese people out recently who were in need, so we will use every space on our planes possible.’

Ben Wallace today insisted the UK has not flown any empty planes out of Kabul despite fears the Taliban are blocking access to the airport

Ben Wallace today insisted the UK has not flown any empty planes out of Kabul despite fears the Taliban are blocking access to the airport

Ben Wallace today insisted the UK has not flown any empty planes out of Kabul despite fears the Taliban are blocking access to the airport

There have been scenes of utter chaos around Kabul airport as people scramble to get out of the country

There have been scenes of utter chaos around Kabul airport as people scramble to get out of the country

There have been scenes of utter chaos around Kabul airport as people scramble to get out of the country 

Troops board a Voyager plane at RAF Brize Norton, bound to help with the operation in the Afghan capital

Troops board a Voyager plane at RAF Brize Norton, bound to help with the operation in the Afghan capital

Troops board a Voyager plane at RAF Brize Norton, bound to help with the operation in the Afghan capital

Boris is savaged by MPs on BOTH sides of packed Commons including Theresa May over ‘catastrophic failure’ amid fears Afghanistan will be ‘breeding ground’ for terror again – but PM blames Biden saying mission could not carry on without ‘US might’ 

MPs hammered Boris Johnson over the ‘catastrophic failure’ in Afghanistan – as the PM swiped at Joe Biden saying the ‘successful’ Afghan mission could not continue without ‘American might’.

As the desperate evacuation effort continues in Kabul, the premier defended his handling of the chaos insisting there was a ‘hard reality’ as a result of the US stance.

Mr Johnson told the recalled chamber – packed out for the first time since last year after Covid restrictions were dropped – that the ‘sacrifice’ of British troops was ‘seared into our national consciousness’. 

He said the ‘core mission’ had been achieved as Afghanistan had not been a hotbed for terrorism.

However, he was immediately assailed by Tories, with defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood saying the West had ‘ceded the country to the very insurgents we went to defeat’. 

Theresa May said Afghanistan would now be a breeding ground for extremism, accusing the PM of operating ‘on a wing and a prayer’ and hoping it would be ‘alright on the night’. Former chief whip Mark Harper said there had been a ‘catastrophic failure’.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the premier had displayed ‘staggering complacency’, pointing out that his last visit to Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary in 2018 had been a ploy to avoid a vote on Heathrow Airport expansion.

There were also calls for the government to go further and faster in providing safe haven for Afghans who face the threat of persecution under the new Taliban regime. 

Labour’s Chris Bryant said only 5,000 of 20,000 refugees were set to be accepted this year, raging that the rest were being asked to ‘hang around and wait until they have been executed’.

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Thousands of British nationals and Afghan allies have been trying to get out of the country after the government dramatically collapsed and the Taliban took charge.

There have been grim scenes of women pleading to be let through the gates at the airport, and even reports of babies being passed over the railings by mothers. 

UK ambassador Laurie Bristow, who has stayed in Kabul to process applications, has warned that there could only be ‘days’ left to evacuate people, with the extremists now controlling all access points.

Around 10,000 Afghan staff who helped the Western forces over the past year are now expected to come to the UK. The Government has also announced Britain will take 20,000 Afghans under a resettlement scheme, with 5,000 due to be accepted in the next 12 months. Women and girls as well as religious minorities and others facing persecution will be prioritised.

Downing Street said the Government will be encouraging international partners to emulate ‘one of the most generous asylum schemes in British history’ – but Labour said the offer was not bold enough.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is facing a huge backlash today after it emerged help for Afghan interpreters might have been delayed because he was on holiday in Crete last week.

The Daily Mail revealed that Foreign Office officials urged Mr Raab to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar on Friday – two days before the Taliban marched on Kabul – only for him to be ‘unavailable’ while on holiday.

The Afghan foreign ministry then apparently refused to arrange a call with a junior minister, pushing it back to the next day. The Foreign Office said: ‘The Foreign Secretary was engaged on a range of other calls and this one was delegated to another minister.’

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, accused Mr Raab of a ‘dereliction of duty’. He added: ‘Failing to make a call has put the lives of brave interpreters at risk, after they served so bravely with our military. Utterly shameful.’

As he scrambles to shore up his position with a flurry of activity, Mr Raab is due to speak with fellow G7 ministers today to discuss international co-operation before leaders of the group – which, as well as the UK, includes the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy – hold a virtual meeting next week.

Mr Raab also held talks last night with his counterparts in India and the US – the second time he has spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week.

The decision of the Prime Minister, who is said to have gone to Somerset, and Mr Raab to take holiday while the Taliban advanced came under scrutiny during a lively Commons debate on Wednesday as Parliament was recalled from its summer break for MPs and peers to debate the Afghanistan situation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the pair as he told MPs: ‘You cannot co-ordinate an international response from the beach.’

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would be turning his attention to international efforts to support the Afghan people, including the emerging refugee crisis.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: ‘We are now asking our international partners to match the UK’s commitments and work with us to offer a lifeline to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people.’

However, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy was critical of the Government’s offer during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time. The senior Labour MP said it was ‘absolutely clear that 5,000 is too small a number over the next 12 months’ and called for a ‘more generous offer’ to be made.

The refugee debate comes after No 10 already announced an increase in humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, doubling it to £286 million.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied that the money would be given to the Taliban, telling reporters it would be distributed in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) and other NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

Mr Johnson and US President Joe Biden both came in for heavy criticism during the emergency debate in Parliament.

In a packed Commons chamber, the Prime Minister defended the final pull-out of British troops, saying it was an ‘illusion’ to think the international military mission could have continued without US forces.

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Overnight chaos at Kabul airport

Troops fired gunshots and let off stun grenades at the entrance to the northern military side of the airport overnight in a vain bid to keep crowds of thousands from rushing the gates

But predecessor Theresa May was among those to take aim at Mr Johnson’s approach, accusing him of hoping ‘on a wing and a prayer it’d be all right on the night’ once the US and its allies had withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Mrs May also hit out at Mr Biden’s decision to ‘unilaterally’ pull out of Afghanistan, with senior MPs – including former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – directing their ire at the White House incumbent.

In Afghanistan, British efforts to repatriate British nationals and local Afghan backers is continuing to gather pace despite chaotic scenes at the airport, with Taliban fighters carrying out spot checks.

Mr Johnson, in his update to MPs, said the Government had so far secured the safe return of 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghans during its rescue efforts.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said Foreign Office personnel were hoping to get ‘at least’ 1,000 people out of the country every day – but warned there were ‘days, not weeks’ left to complete the mission. 

Joe Biden snaps over photos of Afghans falling from planes in Kabul and suggests there’s no way America could have gotten out ‘without chaos ensuing’

President Joe Biden angrily defended his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying on Wednesday that chaos was unavoidable – comments which were immediately seized on as shameful by his critics.

Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden defended the US withdrawal, which saw the Afghan government crumble and fall to the Taliban just 11 days later.

On Wednesday the US military evacuated approximately 1,800 individuals on ten C-17s. Since August 14, nearly 6,000 people have been taken out of Kabul. Biden told ABC News said he wants to rescue 15,000 Americans, and up to 65,000 Afghan refugees who helped the US military operation.

‘The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing — I don’t know how that happens,’ he said.

His remarks were met with disbelief.

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, said it was ‘shameful’.

‘This is such a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan,’ she tweeted.

‘He had no plan, he has no urgency, and he won’t take responsibility. #Shameful’

President Biden defended his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during an interview on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to see how chaos could have been avoided

President Biden defended his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during an interview on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to see how chaos could have been avoided

President Biden defended his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during an interview on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to see how chaos could have been avoided

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

Liz Cheney, senator for Wyoming, who has long argued against withdrawing troops, echoed her remarks, saying: ‘A truly ignorant and shameful performance by an American president.’

Tom Cotton, Republican senator for Arkansas, tweeted: ‘No way to avoid this chaos? That’s a bald-faced lie. Joe Biden is as dishonest as he is impotent.’

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former senior counselor, shared a Fox News article titled: ‘Biden panned for ‘shameful’ comments on Afghan withdrawal during ABC interview: ‘It’s really bad’.’

Iowa congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks said that the White House’s lack of planning was ‘unacceptable’.

‘This statement downplaying his administrations lack of planning, speaks volumes to their lack of commitment to the safety of our American troops and Afghan allies,’ she said.

‘Unacceptable.’

John McCormack, a fellow at the National Review Institute, agreed, saying: ‘Biden waited more than 72 hours since Kabul fell to commit to bringing home every American citizen stuck in Afghanistan. In the interim, top admin officials hedged. Still not clear what the plan is to accomplish this goal.’

Commentator Jack Posobiec tweeted: ‘Biden just told ABC that the Afghanistan withdrawal couldn’t have been handled better There are thousands of American citizens trapped behind enemy lines as he speaks.’

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Donald Trump Jr criticized Biden’s press conference on Wednesday, during which he spoke about COVID, and refused to take questions.

‘10,000 Americans or more are stranded in Afghanistan, trapped by a terrorist organization, and our president is too much of a coward to take a single question from the media. #CowardInChief,’ he said.

At another point in the interview, Biden snapped when asked about horrific images of Afghans falling from planes.

‘That was four days ago, five days ago,’ he said, even though the images of people falling to their deaths emerged on Monday.

Ric Grenell, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Germany, said: Why did @GStephanopoulos let him lie about this?

‘@Abc has some explaining to do. This was an exclusive and that means they have a responsibility.’

The Massachusetts Republican Party account tweeted: ‘If #Biden actually had a plan, Afghans wouldn’t have been falling out of the sky over #Kabul. Disgraceful!’

On social media, images of chaos at Kabul airport were widely shared. Unreal. Shame on the @JoeBiden administration for this mess,’ tweeted pro life activist Lila Rose.

Sharing the clip of desperate Afghans running alongside a U.S. Air Force plane, trying to climb aboard, David Patrikarakos tweeted: ‘This footage will still be played in 100 years.

‘It now joins images of the retreat from Saigon and the naked Vietnamese girl as one of the west’s most shameful moments in modern history.’

Translator saved by the Angel of Kabul: Former intelligence officer comes to the rescue of Afghan interpreter

A former intelligence officer came to the rescue of her one-time Afghan interpreter yesterday after British soldiers at Kabul airport refused to allow him and his family to board a freedom flight.

Pam French was on the telephone to Nawaz, 30, with whom she had worked years earlier at a special forces base in Helmand.

She heard the chaos behind him as he was told for a second day running he did not have the correct paperwork to enter and wait for a flight.

‘I had called to check on his progress so I heard everything that was happening,’ said Mrs Palmer, who had been gardening near her home in Wales yesterday.

Pam French (pictured) came to the rescue of her one-time Afghan interpreter after British soldiers at Kabul airport refused to allow him and his family to board a freedom flight

Pam French (pictured) came to the rescue of her one-time Afghan interpreter after British soldiers at Kabul airport refused to allow him and his family to board a freedom flight

Pam French (pictured) came to the rescue of her one-time Afghan interpreter after British soldiers at Kabul airport refused to allow him and his family to board a freedom flight

‘It sounded pretty busy and noisy and I asked to be put on the phone to the soldier. I explained clearly that he had all the paperwork correct and approval, and did have a place on the plane and to allow him through.

‘One soldier called to another saying ‘There’s a woman on the phone saying he has permission’. They sounded panicked which was hardly surprising as it looked manic. I waited and later heard that he and his family had been allowed through and were due to fly later.’

A relieved Nawaz later confirmed to the Mail that he was safely through with his wife and five children, all of whom are under ten. It had been the second day running that the interpreter and his family had battled to make it into the airport after being told by the British Afghan team he was booked to fly.

 Mrs French, a mother of two, said that on Tuesday, after getting through Taliban checkpoints, he had been turned back by British soldiers who told him he did not have a visa.

In fact, he had an email letter from UK officials stating that the visa would be provided on arrival in the UK. Amid the chaos at the airport, she said, one of Nawaz’s children had become separated from the family. They spent several frantic hours looking for him.

Campaigners say the case clearly shows the difficulties faced by the team in Kabul. The conditions are tense, with hundreds of Afghans demanding flights. One senior former officer described it as an ‘appalling mess – and that’s being polite’. He said those dealing with cases faced an intimidating ‘volume of numbers’.

Pam French was on the telephone to Nawaz (pictured with a British soldier), 30, with whom she had worked years earlier at a special forces base in Helmand

Pam French was on the telephone to Nawaz (pictured with a British soldier), 30, with whom she had worked years earlier at a special forces base in Helmand

Pam French was on the telephone to Nawaz (pictured with a British soldier), 30, with whom she had worked years earlier at a special forces base in Helmand

Luckily for Nawaz, he had been with Mrs French when she was an intelligence officer in Helmand at a highly sensitive base, Camp Juno.

In recent weeks, she has been pressing the case behind the scenes for a dozen interpreters who worked there running spies and analysing information.

‘It was highly difficult and potentially dangerous work and Nawaz was one of a very good team whose lives were at risk,’ she said.

Initially, the interpreters from Juno were refused relocation because they had not been directly employed by the UK government.

But after their cases were highlighted by the Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign Defence Secretary Ben Wallace personally gave several the go-ahead for relocation.

Nawaz had worked for seven years in Helmand and was hospitalised after one operation. Four years ago, he began working through a private contractor with British forces training Afghan soldiers.

 

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