Boris Johnson in tribute to 454 British dead as UK leaves Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Taliban leader sends US troop withdrawal warning

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He also paid tribute to the “valour and sacrifice” of British troops who had served in the long struggle against the Taliban. He said the military presence was “never intended to be permanent”. More than 150,000 Britons have served in Afghanistan since 2001. At least 454 have died. Thousands more lost limbs and suffered life-changing injuries in a conflict which cost the taxpayer at least £37billion.

Most of the remaining 750 UK military trainers with the Nato mission have already left the country, Mr Johnson announced in a Commons statement.

“We and our Nato allies were always going to withdraw our forces. The only question was when, and there could never be a perfect moment,” he said.

“The House would join with me in commending their achievements and pay heartfelt tribute to the British service personnel who laid down their lives in Afghanistan to keep us safe.”

A handful of Special Forces will remain inside Afghanistan to protect Kabul’s “green zone”.

In April, President Joe Biden announced he would withdraw the remaining US forces by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, effectively ending international military involvement in Afghanistan. 

With fears that the departure of foreign troops could lead to a Taliban takeover, Mr Johnson said the UK will continue to support the government of President Ashraf Ghani with £100million in development aid and £58million for Afghan security forces.

“We are not about to turn away, nor are we under any illusions about the perils of today’s situation,” he told MPs. “We shall use every diplomatic and humanitarian lever to support Afghanistan’s development and stability.”

On Wednesday the Taliban launched its first assault on a provincial capital, since waging a major offensive against government forces, local officials said.

Fierce fighting has erupted in the western city of Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis, after the militants captured all the surrounding districts of the province.

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