Last British troops left late Saturday; embassy moves to Qatar.
Britain’s military presence in Afghanistan came to an end after 20 years as the remaining UK troops have left, the British defense chief said late Saturday.
“At 21.25hrs tonight the last RAF plane left Kabul Airport ending the evacuation of military and Afghan personnel,” Ben Wallace wrote on Twitter.
“In 14 days over 15,000 people have been airlifted on over 165 flights. We should be proud of our armed forces, welcoming to those coming for a better life, and sad for those left behind.
“Our obligation to them does not end with our leaving. There will be many lessons to learn but over the last twenty years there are also endless examples of amazing achievements, bravery and friendships formed. We will not forget those who lost their lives.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said British soldiers set foot on Afghan soil 20 years ago “aiming to create a brighter future for the country and all its people.”
Their departure “is a moment to reflect on everything we have sacrificed and everything we have achieved in the last two decades,” he said. “The nature of our engagement in Afghanistan may have changed, but our goals for the country have not. We will now use all the diplomatic and humanitarian tools at our disposal to preserve the gains of the last twenty years and give the Afghan people the future they deserve.”
More than 150,000 British servicemen served in the Afghanistan campaign and over 450 British personnel died since the start of operations in 2001, according to officials figures.
US and NATO troops left Bagram, the largest airbase in Afghanistan, earlier in August. German and Italian troops left at the end of June.
The UK officially ended its combat role in 2014, but troops remained in support of NATO forces.
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The British Embassy moved to Qatar after the Taliban takeover and will work remotely.