(Reuters) – The United Kingdom said on Wednesday it has evacuated more than 11,000 people from Afghanistan, adding that the evacuation process will run as long as the security situation allows and that no firm date had been set for the end of evacuation flights.
British foreign minister Dominic Raab said earlier that the deadline for evacuating people was up to the last minute of the month.
“11,474 individuals have been evacuated from Afghanistan under Operation PITTING, which commenced on Friday 13 August. More than 1,000 UK Armed Forces personnel deployed in Kabul”, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The total includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy programme and a number of nationals from partner nations, the statement added.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan earlier this month from a U.S.-backed government, sending thousands fleeing and potentially heralding a return to the militants’ austere and autocratic rule of two decades ago.
Western nations rushed to complete the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan on Wednesday as the Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops drew closer with no sign that the country’s new Taliban rulers might allow an extension.
In one of the biggest such airlifts ever, the United States and its allies have evacuated more than 70,000 people, including their citizens, NATO personnel and Afghans at risk, since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul to bring to an end a 20-year foreign military presence.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)