Number of UK nationals left behind in Afghanistan in ‘low hundreds,’ says Dominic Raab

The Cabinet minister said on Tuesday he was unable to give a “definitive” figure on how many Afghans the UK had failed to airlift to safety after the Taliban seized power.

Mr Raab was also forced to deny a Pentagon leak suggesting the US wanted to close a gate to Kabul airport ahead of the deadly bombing, but kept it open to assist the British evacuation.

And he did not rule out the RAF taking part in air strikes to target the so-called Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan.

The US ended a deployment that began in the wake of the September 11 attacks two decades ago when it withdrew its remaining forces from Afghanistan on Monday.

Mr Raab did not dismiss the possibility that thousands of Afghans and UK nationals could have been left behind following the departure of British troops ahead of their American counterparts.

Instead, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s very difficult to give you a firm figure. I can tell you that for UK nationals we’ve secured since April over 5,000, and we’re in the low hundreds (remaining).”

The Foreign Secretary disputed leaked Pentagon notes obtained by the Politico website suggesting the US wanted to close Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate but kept it open to allow UK evacuees into the airport.

Mr Raab said it was “just not true” to suggest the UK called for the gate to be left open for part of its exit operation after the leak threatened to strain relations between Britain and the US.

Scores of Afghans, 13 US service personnel, two Britons and the child of a British national died in a bombing carried out by Isis-K, an Afghan offshoot of Islamic State.

“We co-ordinated very closely with the US, in particular around the Isis-K threat which we anticipated, although tragically were not able to prevent, but it is certainly right to say we got our civilians out of the processing centre by Abbey Gate,” Mr Raab told Sky News.

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