Threat of more attacks increases as Afghanistan withdrawal deadline draws closer – UK defence minister

Threat of more attacks increases as Afghanistan withdrawal deadline draws closer – UK defence minister

As the August 31 deadline for evacuations from Afghanistan creeps closer, the threat of further attacks on foreign troops from groups like Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is heightened, the UK defence secretary has warned.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Ben Wallace explained that “the threat is obviously going to grow the closer we get to leaving” Afghanistan, as “certain groups such as ISIS will want to stake a claim that they have driven out the U.S. or the UK.”

As the UK enters its final stages of the evacuation mission, efforts will now be placed on airlifting British nationals and those who have undergone the clearing process and are awaiting departure. 

In a statement, the defence minister said some people would be left behind in Afghanistan and that “it is with deep regret that not everyone has been able to be evacuated during this process.”

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ISIS claims responsibility for deadly blasts outside Kabul airport

Wallace said the explosion at the Baron Hotel had not hastened the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that the closure of a processing centre at the site had happened on schedule. 

Wallace’s remarks come after a double-strike was executed at the hotel and Kabul airport on Thursday that claimed 85 lives, amongst those fatalities were 13 US soldiers. An Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) suicide bomber detonated explosives at the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport, while another blast went off outside the nearby Baron Hotel.

General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, also anticipated subsequent attacks, including rockets or car bombings, on US troops. Officials were said to be “doing everything we can to be prepared” on Thursday. 

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Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan (FILE PHOTO) © Twitter/DAVID_MARTINON via REUTERS
Militants planning ‘imminent, lethal attack’ on Kabul airport warns UK minister

Just hours before the blasts rocked Kabul airport, the British armed forces minister, James Heappey, warned of an “imminent”, “lethal” attack by Islamist militants. 

The UK has so far evacuated over 13,700 UK nationals and Afghans from the war-torn country.  

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