Spain warns of leaving people behind in Afghanistan; France to end evacuation early if US withdraws on Aug 31

Madrid has so far evacuated just over 700 people from Afghanistan but Robles said there were still "many people" who needed to leave.

Published: 24th August 2021 02:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2021 02:47 PM   |  A+A-

Taliban fighters search a vehicle at a checkpoint on the road in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters search a vehicle at a checkpoint on the road in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo | AP)

By Agencies

Spain will not be able to rescue all Afghans who served Spanish missions in Afghanistan because of the "dramatic" situation on the ground, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said Tuesday.

"We will evacuate as many people as possible but there are people who will stay behind for reasons that do not depend on us, but on the situation there," she said during an interview with news radio Cadena Ser.

"It is a very frustrating situation for everyone, because even those who reach Kabul, access to the airport is very complicated," she added.

"The Taliban are becoming more aggressive, there is gunfire, violence is more obvious," she said.

"The situation is frankly dramatic and besides with each passing day it is worse because people are conscious that time is running out."

Madrid has so far evacuated just over 700 people from Afghanistan but Robles said there were still "many people" who needed to leave.

ALSO READ: Ukrainian plane in Kabul for evacuation of stranded citizens hijacked to Iran, says Report

Like other European nations, Spain has been evacuating its local contractors from Afghanistan since the Taliban swept to power ten days ago, the AFP reported.

On Tuesady, France also said it will end evacuations from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan later this week if the United States sticks to a plan to pull its troops out at the end of August, a foreign ministry official said.

If the United States carries out a total withdrawal on August 31 as planned "for us... that means that our operation ends Thursday evening. So we have three days left," Nicolas Roche, the chief of staff for Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French Prime Minister Jean Castex Tuesday.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden had set  August 31 deadline to finish the chaotic airlift organised by thousands of temporarily deployed US and UK troops, but has left the door open to an extension if needed.

However, a spokesman for the Taliban warned Monday the hardline Islamist group would not agree to any extension.

Almost 2,000 French nationals and Afghans have in recent days been evacuated by France via a military base in Abu Dhabi, after President Emmanuel Macron said the country was opening its arms to people under threat from the Taliban.

The foreign ministry has identified another 62 French citizens in need of evacuation while authorities are examining requests from many more Afghans to leave the country.

The Spanish government has consistently declined to give a figure for the total number of people it planned to take out of Afghanistan.



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