Ben Wallace Says UK Is Ready To "Take Action" Against ISIS In Afghanistan After Airport Attacks
The UK has "the capabilities" to hunt down ISIS militants in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said, after President Joe Biden last night told the terrorist group “we will hunt you down and make you pay.”
Wallace on Friday told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the UK was ready to go after ISIS fighters in Afghanistan after the group claimed responsibility for two bomb attacks outside Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday, killing at least 90 including 13 US military personnel.
“We are already on a mission to deal with ISIS, whether they are in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else where they pose an imminent threat to UK citizens and indeed the interests of that country, or where we operate for mutual self defence," Wallace said this morning.
"If ISIS, as it clearly does, poses an imminent threat to the UK and its people, then under international law we have the right to take action and we will take action where we see that threat emerge, and we have the ability to do that."
The Secretary of State for Defence refused to go into specifics about what action the UK military could take, but said: "We have the capabilities to deal with those kind of threats, and many types of capabilities."
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) this morning confirmed the UK was in the final stages of evacuating people from Afghanistan and that no more people will be called to the airport in Kabul.
The UK had evacuated 13,146 as of Thursday night, the MOD said, including nearly 8,000 Afghans who had worked for the government during the 20-year operation in the country, around 4,000 British passport holders, and other vulnerable individuals.
Wallace expressed regret that not everybody would be evacuated from Afghanistan, which fell into the control of The Taliban this month, but insisted the government could not have done any more.
“I can’t change the laws of physics and we can’t have done any more than we have," he told Today.
"We – rightly – have taken big decisions that have helped that flow.
"We have loosened regulations to take much more people per aircraft.
"I took the decision that we would leave behind equipment of our armed forces, and I know people will be upset by that. But for every Land Rover is more people on a plane.”
However, the government is facing questions over how many people it has managed to get out of Afghanistan after Boris Johnson yesterday said the "lion’s share" of Afghans eligible to come to the UK had been evacuated.
Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: "Out of hundreds only four we've heard from have made it out. All who've worked with UK/US in one way or another." She was responding to another Labour MP, Sarah Jones, who posted "all but two of my cases are still in Afghanistan and I know many MPs are in a similar position."
The UK evacuartion effort in Kabul is now focused solely on processing people who were already at the airport, the MOD said this morning.
"The UK's ability to process further cases is now extremely reduced and additional numbers will be limited.
"Evacuating all those civilians we have already processed will free up the capacity needed on UK military aircraft to bring out our remaining diplomats and military personnel."
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