The British Ambassador to Afghanistan said that the time had come to end the UK’s airlift of civilians from Kabul.
His words came as a defence official confirmed that the last purely civilian flight had now left Afghanistan.
“It’s time to close this phase of the operation down but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave, and we will do everything we can to help them,” Ambassador Laurie Bristow said in a statement.
Earlier, the head of the Armed Forces confirmed that British troops would end the evacuation today.
Speaking to the BBC, General Nick Carter said: “We’re reaching the end of the evacuation, which will take place during the course of today. And then it will be necessary to bring our troops out on the remaining aircraft.”
Britain’s armed forces are now preparing to leave and will take small numbers of Afghan citizens with them on remaining flights this weekend, a defence ministry spokesperson added.
Since 13 August, the UK has evacuated 14,543 people from Kabul airport, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said yesterday.
However, Carter acknowledged that troops would not be able to get everyone out before the deadline, which he admitted was “heart-breaking”.
“There have been some very challenging judgements that have had to be made on the ground”, he said.
Between 800 and 1,100 eligible Afghans and 100 to 150 Britons have not been evacuated, defence secretary Ben Wallace has said.
In a letter to fellow MPs yesterday, Wallace, along with home secretary Priti Patel and foreign secretary Dominic Raab, said that attention would now turn to helping those left behind try to find a way to leave Afghanistan, which fell to the Taliban last week.
“Let us reassure you that we will continue to use every lever at our disposal to secure the safe passage of those who wish to leave Afghanistan and to hold the Taliban to account”, they wrote.
Earlier this week two British nationals and the child of a British national died in a suicide attack at Kabul airport, which may have killed as many as 170 people in total.
IS-K, a branch of the Islamic State fundamentalist network, has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
In a statement, Raab said he was “deeply saddened” in a statement announcing the news.
“These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists,” he said.
“Yesterday’s despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.”