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Spain announces end to its Kabul airlifts after flying out 2,200 people

Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division help facilitate the safe evacuation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan, at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Sgt. Jillian G. Hix/U.S. Army via AP)
Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division help facilitate the safe evacuation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan, at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Sgt. Jillian G. Hix/U.S. Army via AP)

Spain announces the end of its Kabul evacuations after a nine-day operation that saw more than 2,200 people flown out of the strife-torn country following the Taliban takeover.

The last two planes arrived in Dubai early on Friday, ending an airlift that began on August 18.

“In total, we have managed to evacuate 2,206 people,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says, indicating the number was almost three times higher than expected and hailing the work involved in a mission of “extraordinary complexity.”

“Mission accomplished,” he says while insisting Spain was “not going to abandon the Afghan people”.

He says most of the people evacuated were Afghans, including 1,671 — and their families — who worked for Spain.

Some 333 worked for the European Union, 50 who worked for NATO as well as 21 Portuguese or Afghans working for Portugal. He says another 131 were evacuated on behalf of the United States.

“We stayed in Kabul until the last second while the security of the operation was guaranteed, but we remain committed to… seeking ways to continue evacuating the maximum number of people who worked with Spain and the international community.”

Sanchez says Spain did not have “an exact number” of Afghan collaborators who were left behind but was working on “a way to continue getting them out.”

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