Just like Washington, London is struggling to evacuate its nationals, as well as UK visa applicants, out of the country recently seized by the Taliban*. The evacuation process ended up being similarly chaotic to the one organised by the US.
UK Special Forces carried out a rescue operation to extract 150 civilians who wanted to leave Afghanistan from remote parts of Kabul even after the US tried to dissuade them from doing so, the Express has reported, citing anonymous sources. It is unclear when exactly the alleged operation to evacuate UK nationals and locals eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy took place.
Under the cover of darkness, a group consisting of the second and third battalions of the UK Parachute Regiment, British Special Forces Support Group, and MI6 intelligence aided by the CIA and the US and French Special Forces, worked on securing passage through the Taliban-controlled capital, the media outlet claims.
They reportedly used abandoned vehicles from the UK Embassy for transportation and chose the night as the time for the raid in order to lower their chances of encountering Taliban patrols, even though the latter formally promised not to attack NATO troops and civilians heading to the overcrowded and poorly managed Kabul Airport. The effort was aided by British diplomats, Home Office personnel, as well as an “army” of 250 call handlers and bureaucrats, who received calls for help from the stranded civilians. The forces were additionally aided by US drones and a Navy electronic warfare team, the Express claims, citing sources.
The media outlet said the US originally opposed the operation, warning the second battalion of the UK Parachute Regiment, which was tapped to carry it out, that nobody would come to their rescue if “it hits the fan”. The third battalion reportedly joined the effort, later bringing the overall number of troops to 900. The Express also said that the battalions are now venturing no further than the Hotel Baron, which is being used to process hundreds of civilians trying to get out of Afghanistan.
Downing Street has recently boasted of evacuating around 3,000 British citizens and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan, which essentially fell to the Taliban after they seized Kabul without a fight on 15 August. The latter ended their blitz offensive, which took place against the backdrop of the rapid withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country.
Despite launching the evacuation in May, the US had to urgently pull American diplomats out of the Kabul Embassy on 15 August. Washington is still a long way away from evacuating all of the Afghans who helped them during the war in Afghanistan and now fear retribution from the Taliban. The chaotic evacuation campaign, as well as NATO’s failure to sufficiently prepare Kabul to withstand the Taliban’s assault, has since drawn widespread criticism around the world and across the political spectrum, with American President Joe Biden taking most of the flak.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other nations.