THE UK’s civilian evacuation from Afghanistan will end today as the final flights prepare to take off from Kabul airport.
Head of the UK armed forces General Sir Nick Carter said “very few” flights are still coming out of Kabul – as warnings that another devastating terror attack in the area is “likely” pour in.
General Carter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re reaching the end of the evacuation, which will take place during the course of today, and then of course it’ll be necessary to bring our troops out on the remaining aircraft.
“It’s gone as well as it could do in the circumstances.”
British troops have already landed back home, with pictures showing soldiers in uniform pouring from military planes in RAF Brize Norton today.
Experts are predicting “the biggest hostage crisis the UK has ever seen” as between 100 and 150 UK nationals and up to 1,100 eligible Afghans are left behind amid the chaos.
And President Joe Biden has been briefed that “another terror attack in Kabul is likely” as the US yesterday launched a drone strike against the ISIS-K “planner” of Thursday’s suicide bombing.
The devastating explosion killed 170 people, including two Brits and the child of a UK national.
One of the victims has been named as London taxi driver Muhammad Niazi, whose wife and two daughters are missing.
It comes as…
Ben Wallace admitted around 100 and 150 UK nationals will be left in Afghanistan after the evacuations, although the Defence Secretary said some of those were staying willingly.
Between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Arap scheme – which applies to those who helped the UK and are at risk of persecution by the Taliban – will be left in the country, he added.
A tearful Pen Farthing has been forced to leave his staff behind as he was on Friday night finally admitted in to Kabul airport with his 94 dogs and 79 cats for a stressful evacuation.
Armed militants banned the ex-Commando’s Afghan workers from boarding a private rescue flight to Britain.
The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee Mr Tugendhat warned the number of people left behind could spark a huge hostage crisis.
Speaking to Sky News, the Tory MP, who served in Afghanistan, said: “There’s a possibility we may find ourselves with the biggest hostage crisis the UK has ever seen.
“Over 3,000 entitled people were said to be in Afghanistan at the beginning of the process, I don’t know how many now, but we’ll be asking about that.
“And we’ll be looking to see what that means for getting British citizens out, what that means for getting entitled people out and protecting those people who are, quite rightly, literally in fear of their lives now.”
Earlier he said one of those stuck in Afghanistan was his own interpreter, adding: “I’m not giving up, but my anger and shame for those we’ve left behind to be hunted by the Taliban is growing.”
Tory MP Bob Seely described the scrambled evacuation as the “Dunkirk of the 21st Century”.
The ex-soldier and member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee told The Sun: “It’s desperately sad that some are being left behind.
“The Brits are a worry in themselves, but it will likely be even worse for the Afghans who put their lives on the line and now face the wrath of the Taliban.
But he warned that scooping up the stragglers could be a nightmare because people fleeing for the border face “brutal” Taliban checkpoints.
“Anyone travelling with spouse and kids will be rightly petrified going through checkpoint. They will be putting their lives on the line every time they do.”
The Prime Minister pledged to “shift heaven and earth” to allow those who wished to leave the country to do so after the August 31 withdrawal deadline set by the Americans.
But in the current operation the Baron Hotel facility, which was being used to process those leaving the country by British officials, has now closed.
The MoD said this would allow a focus on evacuating the British nationals and others who have already been processed and are at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
But the department said “the UK’s ability to process further cases is now extremely reduced and additional numbers will be limited”, and no-one else would now be called forward.
It comes as the White House said US president Joe Biden had been briefed that “another terror attack in Kabul is likely”.
The US yesterday launched its first deadly revenge attack the ISIS-K chief behind the Kabul airport bombing.
Captain Bill Urban of the Central Command said the drone attack took place in the Nangahar province of east Afghanistan – home to most of the 2,000 Islamic State-Khorasan militants that took responsibility for Thursday’s atrocity.
“Initial indications are that we killed the target” – a “planner” of the suicide bombing, Cpt Urban said, adding: “We know of no civilian casualties.”
The President earlier vowed the US will “hunt down” the remaining organisers of the attack.
Khalil Haqqani – Kabul airport’s self-appointed “head of security” – will likely be an early suspect due to his links to ISIS.
He runs the Haqqani network, a terrorist organisation within Afghanistan, alongside his nephews Sirajuddin and Anas.
The group have been responsible for some of the most devastating attacks in the country and – due to their terrifying reputation – are able to run as a splinter group unopposed by the Taliban.
Speaking to broadcasters on Friday, Mr Johnson said the British deaths on Thursday show the speed at which the final evacuations must take place.
He said: “I think what their loss really underlines is the urgency of getting on and concluding Operation Pitting in the way that we are.
“And also it underlines the bravery of our armed services, our troops, everybody else involved in it, and the bravery of the American military who are doing so much as well.”
But he added: “Of course, as we come down to the final hours of the operation there will sadly be people who haven’t got through, people who might qualify.
“And what I would say to them is that we will shift heaven and earth to help them get out. We will do whatever we can in the second phase.”
The MoD said on Friday night that 14,543 people had now been extracted from Kabul since August 13, a mix of Afghan and British nationals.
Some 8,000 of those were Afghans and their families under the Arap scheme.