The UK might be leaving special forces soldiers in Afghanistan after the rest of its troops leave the country, the Telegraph reported on Sunday. The report said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to make a final decision on the matter on Monday, but so far, nothing has been confirmed.
A former soldier from Britain’s Special Air Services (SAS) told the Telegraph that while an official announcement hadn’t been made, the decision was as good as done. The source said the SAS would stay as an “advisory group” and added that there was “no determined time” for how long the special forces troops would stay in Afghanistan.
Last week, it was reported by BBC that classified British documents were found at a bus stop that contained information regarding the UK’s Afghanistan plans. One document titled “Secret UK Eyes Only” detailed that the US asked Britain to leave their own special forces in Afghanistan after the rest of the US and NATO coalition leaves.
The Daily Mail reported Monday that the last of the UK’s regular troops left Afghanistan on Monday. At this point, it’s not clear if British special forces were left behind. If they did stay, it could be an unofficial presence, and the UK government might not have to acknowledge it.
President Biden set September 11th as a withdrawal deadline after breaking the US-Taliban peace deal by pushing back the original May 1st pullout date. The withdrawal is moving along, but reports say the US could leave up to 1,000 troops in Afghanistan to protect its embassy and help Turkish troops secure the Kabul airport. The Pentagon has established a new military command structure that will be based out of the embassy, a sign that the US post-withdrawal presence will go beyond diplomatic security.