First British troops begin deploying to Afghanistan to help evacuate remaining UK nationals

The first British troops have begun deploying to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation of UK nationals who remain in the country.Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, who will provide force protection, are due to leave over the weekend - with the Ministry of Defence confirming Operation Pitting started yesterday. About 600 troops are expected to take part in the operation, which will also help with the relocation of Afghans who face reprisals from the Taliban because they helped British forces. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Protecting British nationals and ensuring their safety as they leave Afghanistan is our top priority."Over the next few weeks, we shall all do our very best to support the Afghan government and those that have worked with us over 20 years." Advertisement It comes as a US defence official warns that the Taliban could begin an assault on Afghanistan's capital within days. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the hardline Islamist group is making a concerted effort to isolate Kabul. More from World Resistance from government forces has been crumbling, with insurgents seizing Afghanistan's second and third-largest cities in recent days. Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SpreakerThe Taliban now holds half of the nation's 34 provincial capitals and controls more than two-thirds of the country.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that "Afghanistan is spinning out of control" - and says more needs to be done to protect civilians.Officials at the United Nations have warned the current situation has "all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe", with 400,000 people forced from their homes since the start of this year.In Herat, a city of 600,000 people to the west that fell under Taliban control on Thursday, local politicians said families have either fled or are hiding in their homes. Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player UK must be 'realistic' over Afghanistan Yesterday, the prime minister rejected the notion that the sacrifices of British forces over the past 20 years - and said the threat from al Qaeda has been "greatly, greatly reduced".However, Mr Johnson warned there is no "military solution to prevent the Taliban's resurgence. Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player Afghanistan: Embassies prepare to evacuate He said: "I think we have got to be realistic about the power of the UK or any power to impose a military solution - a combat solution - in Afghanistan."What we certainly can do is work with all our partners in the region around the world who share an interest with us in preventing Afghanistan once again becoming a breeding ground for terror." The US is sending 3,000 additional soldiers to assist with the departure of some embassy staff.Joe Biden's last-minute decision to make this deployment casts doubt over the president's 31 August deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces.Although the mission of the newly arriving soldiers is said to be limited to airlifting embassy personnel and Afghan allies, they might have to stay longer if the US embassy is threatened by a Taliban takeover of Kabul.

First British troops begin deploying to Afghanistan to help evacuate remaining UK nationals

The first British troops have begun deploying to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation of UK nationals who remain in the country.

Members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, who will provide force protection, are due to leave over the weekend - with the Ministry of Defence confirming Operation Pitting started yesterday.

About 600 troops are expected to take part in the operation, which will also help with the relocation of Afghans who face reprisals from the Taliban because they helped British forces.

Map shows Taliban gains in Afghanistan
Map shows Taliban gains in Afghanistan
State of Taliban advance 13 August 2021

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Protecting British nationals and ensuring their safety as they leave Afghanistan is our top priority.

"Over the next few weeks, we shall all do our very best to support the Afghan government and those that have worked with us over 20 years."

It comes as a US defence official warns that the Taliban could begin an assault on Afghanistan's capital within days.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the hardline Islamist group is making a concerted effort to isolate Kabul.

More from World

Resistance from government forces has been crumbling, with insurgents seizing Afghanistan's second and third-largest cities in recent days.

Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

The Taliban now holds half of the nation's 34 provincial capitals and controls more than two-thirds of the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that "Afghanistan is spinning out of control" - and says more needs to be done to protect civilians.

Officials at the United Nations have warned the current situation has "all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe", with 400,000 people forced from their homes since the start of this year.

In Herat, a city of 600,000 people to the west that fell under Taliban control on Thursday, local politicians said families have either fled or are hiding in their homes.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

UK must be 'realistic' over Afghanistan

Yesterday, the prime minister rejected the notion that the sacrifices of British forces over the past 20 years - and said the threat from al Qaeda has been "greatly, greatly reduced".

However, Mr Johnson warned there is no "military solution to prevent the Taliban's resurgence.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Afghanistan: Embassies prepare to evacuate

He said: "I think we have got to be realistic about the power of the UK or any power to impose a military solution - a combat solution - in Afghanistan.

"What we certainly can do is work with all our partners in the region around the world who share an interest with us in preventing Afghanistan once again becoming a breeding ground for terror."

The US is sending 3,000 additional soldiers to assist with the departure of some embassy staff.

Joe Biden's last-minute decision to make this deployment casts doubt over the president's 31 August deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces.

Although the mission of the newly arriving soldiers is said to be limited to airlifting embassy personnel and Afghan allies, they might have to stay longer if the US embassy is threatened by a Taliban takeover of Kabul.