Afghanistan: ‘Taliban have all the cards’ says expert

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The already desperate situation at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport has worsened as the UK FCDO warned that anyone outside the airport could be in imminent danger. The US and Australia have issued similar warnings, telling those outside the airport to leave immediately.

In the latest advice, the FCDO said: “The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile.

“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.

“Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location.”

The update, issued on Wednesday, also warned that travelling by road was “extremely dangerous”.

Officials haven’t elaborated on the exact nature of the threat, but Armed Forces Secretary James Heappey told BBC News on Thursday morning the intelligence was “incredibly imminent and lethal”.

“We are not just being overly cautious,” he said.

US President Joe Biden has warned of a group linked to ISIS that is seeking to target the airport.

With huge crowds swarming the airport surrounds, concerns of the possibility of suicide attacks are growing.

The US advised Americans in Afghanistan not to travel or gather at the airport “because of security threats outside the gates”.

And Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, said: “There is an ongoing and very high threat of a terrorist attack”.

These latest developments come amid the race to evacuate thousands from Kabul before the August 31 deadline when foreign troops are due to depart.

According to the Ministry of Defence, more than 11,000 people have been evacuated with the help of 1,000 UK troops since 13 August.

Kabul airport is currently being defended and run by the US, which has 5,800 troops on the ground.

On Tuesday, US President Biden rejected calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies to delay the withdrawal date for remaining American soldiers.

The situation on the ground is increasingly desperate as the Taliban transition continues.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has told MPs that some Afghans wanting to flee to Britain may be better off trying to reach one of the country’s borders and making their way to a third country.

Speaking in an online meeting, Mr Wallace is reported to have signalled there were few places left on evacuation flights and said “not everyone is going to get out”.

Mr Wallace told MPs that all cases raised with him of people who are in serious danger would be considered by the teams processing urgent requests for evacuation.

But former Tory Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said any land corridors would have to be agreed with the Taliban if the UK was to avoid the risk of putting people in harm’s way.

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