The Latest: UK’s Blair calls US Afghan departure ‘tragic’
LONDON — Tony Blair, the British prime minister who deployed troops to Afghanistan 20 years ago after the 9/11 attacks, says the U.S. decision to leave has “every Jihadist group round the world cheering.”
In a lengthy essay posted on his website late Saturday, Blair said the decision to withdraw troops was “tragic, dangerous, unnecessary.” He added that Britain has a “moral obligation” to stay until “all those who need to be are evacuated.”
He said the exit was not in the West or Afghanistan’s interest, with the Taliban reasserting itself across most of the country.
He also warned that the decision by the U.S. to keep Britain largely in the dark about the withdrawal risks relegating the country to “the second division of global powers.”
Blair accused U.S. President Joe Biden of making the decision on the back of “an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’.”
MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:
— British military: 7 Afghans killed in chaos at Kabul airport
— China both worries and hopes as US departs Afghanistan
— Europe fears Afghan refugee crisis after Taliban takeover
— AP PHOTOS: Two decades of war, and daily life in Afghanistan
— Biden vows to evacuate all Americans — and Afghan helpers
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KABUL, Afghanistan — The British military says seven Afghan civilians have been killed in the crowds near Kabul’s international airport amid the chaos of those fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement Sunday that “conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible.”
The airport has been the focal point for thousands trying to flee the Taliban, who swept into Kabul a week ago after their lightning advance seized the country.
ISLAMABAD — The spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines says the airline has suspended flights from Kabul and is not evacuating anyone at the moment.
Abdullah Hafeez Khan says Sunday that the airline has no on-ground arrangements and lacks appropriate facilities at Kabul international airport to operate evacuation flights.
Khan said the suspension is temporary and the airline will resume its operations once the required arrangements are made there.
NEW DELHI — An Indian official says an air force transport plane has left Kabul for New Delhi carrying 168 people on board.
Arindam Bagchi, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, says the plane took off from Kabul on Sunday morning and the passengers include 107 Indian nationals. He didn’t give the nationalities of 61 others evacuated from the Afghan capital.
Meanwhile, another group of 87 Indians who were evacuated from Kabul to Tajikistan on Saturday in an Indian air force plane are being flown to New Delhi on Sunday, Bagchi said in a tweet. Two Nepalese nationals also were evacuated on that flight.
India began evacuating its nationals last Sunday after the Taliban swept into Kabul.
The Press Trust of India news agency said around 400 Indians were believed to be stranded in Afghanistan. No official figure was available.