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A British student who took a holiday to Afghanistan before being trapped by the Taliban takeover today shared a video from inside a military plane as he landed in Dubai after being evacuated to safety.
The footage showed Miles Routledge, 21, sitting among hundreds of other people fleeing the militant group as the packed aircraft – which he described as being operated by the British Army – touched down in the UAE.
The banking intern, who was wearing a flak jacket in the video, wrote in a Facebook caption: ‘I’ve landed in Dubai thanks to the brilliant people at the British Army. All safe!’
Mr Routledge earlier claimed he had been put under UN protection following the Taliban’s invasion of the Afghan capital. His exploits have provoked fury as thousands of refugees, including brave British Army translators, desperately scrabble for space on the few flights leaving Afghanistan to avoid being killed by Taliban fighters.
Beneath one Facebook post another user wrote: ‘Selfish actions, your seat on a plane home should have been given to an Afghan interpreter who now faces certain death.’
The UK’s evacuation effort – codenamed called Operation PITTING – is helping British citizens and Afghan’s entitled to a British visa, including Army translators. An official at Kabul airport said three British military flights had left so far today among a total of 12 from all foreign nations.
The UK’s evacuation operation is being overseen by members of the Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade working with RAF pilots and using UK bases including Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Vice Adm Sir Ben Key, who is in charge, said 300 people have already been evacuated, and he believes the British military could get between 6000-7000 people out.
He said he was confident the airfield was ‘stable’ but added that the ‘dynamic political situation’ in Kabul meant the evacuation operation ‘can’t afford to pause’, adding that officials were ‘alive to the uncertainty’.
MailOnline has contacted the Ministry of Defence to confirm if Mr Routledge was travelling on a British military flight.
Miles Routledge, 21, shared footage of him sitting alongside hundreds of other people fleeing the militant group as the aircraft touched down in the UAE
The banking intern, who was wearing a flak jacket, wrote on a caption: ‘I’ve landed in Dubai thanks to the brilliant people at the British Army. All safe!’
At a glance: What is the situation in Afghanistan and how many people are being evacuated?
The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly 20-year war. Here is the latest:
- The Taliban, who ran Afghanistan in the late 1990s, have again taken control after the Western-backed government that has run it for 20 years collapsed
- Thousands of people are racing to Kabul Airport which is one of the last routes out of the country amid fears the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks
- At least 56,000 people need evacuating – including some 22,000 on US special immigrant visas, 4,000 British nationals, 10,000 refugees that Germany has said it will accept, and 20,000 bound for Canada
- Some people are so desperate that they clung to the side of a military jet as it took off and then plunged to their deaths yesterday – at least seven died
- 900 British armed forces in Afghanistan to bring UK nationals home and secure safety of some Afghans
- 150 British nationals were flown out on Sunday while 289 Afghan nationals were taken out last week
- A further 350 British and Afghans will be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours, UK Government says
- The US may issue up 80,000 special immigrant visas to those who helped with its combat operations
- 7,500 troops currently guarding the airport – including 6,000 Americans and smaller numbers of British, Turkish and Australians – will also need to leave
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for G7 leaders to hold a virtual meeting ‘in the coming days’
- Defence Minister Ben Wallace says the Taliban takeover is a ‘failure of the international community’
- US President Joe Biden called the situation ‘gut-wrenching’ but rejected blame for what’s happening
- The Taliban now say they want to form an ‘inclusive, Islamic government’ with other factions – and are holding negotiations with senior politicians
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has already fled the country after the Taliban reached Kabul on Sunday
There are at least 56,000 people who need evacuating from Afghanistan – including some 22,000 flying on US special immigrant visas, 4,000 British nationals, 10,000 refugees that Germany has said it will accept, and 20,000 bound for Canada.
In reality, that number is likely to be far higher once diplomatic staff from dozens of countries which had relations with Afghanistan’s former government are taken into account.
Mr Routledge, from Birmingham, had earlier posted a series of photos on streaming site Twitch of his apparent trip around the war-torn country.
The Loughborough physics student announced yesterday that he had eventually secured an evacuation flight.
Mr Routledge wrote on Facebook: ‘Got Evacuated at 4ish (it’s 2am now) with 100 or so other civilians, couldn’t message as there were cars emitting signals that would set off bombs, it blocked my airpods from connecting so I think it blocked all wifi/data.
‘The Taliban let us go through the airport and we met many of them, very long transition period but everyone was smiling and waving at one another, some took selfies with them. I slept on a dirt/gravel road and woke up as cars went by. We’re in a new safe house and we’re all hydrated, happy and ready for a few hours of sleep.’
Shortly after he posted an update saying: ‘On the flight out we aren’t allowed any liquids at all, no razors and only 1 bag up to 10kg so everyone is tossing all their belongings into a pile.
‘People are donating each other their items because they can’t carry them. Some lads stuffed my body armour and bag with protein bars, over 20 of them. Very happy man (right now). Thank you lads.’
His mother Susan was distraught when approached at the family home in Sutton Coldfield yesterday.
Mrs Routledge told The Sun Online she had urgently been awaiting a call from the Foreign Office to discover whether her son would be kept safe amid the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.
Her son had previously bragged of visiting Chernobyl, posting pictures in May saying it was two years since he visited the scene of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
Mr Routledge, from Birmingham , had earlier posted a series of photos of his apparent trip around the war-torn country
Mr Routledge, from Birmingham, claimed he was quizzed by armed Taliban militants while on his way to Kabul International Airport
An undated photo issued by the student of the room he said he was staying at a Nato compound in Kabul after the Taliban takeover
In online posts under his name he apparently claimed to have been quizzed by armed Taliban militants while on his way to Kabul International Airport.
They apparently asked him where he was from – to which he said Wales. He claims the fighters did not know where Wales was, and let him go. Mr Routledge said he later came across another armed convoy during the Taliban insurgency and took a selfie on one of their gun emplacements.
Mr Routledge has subsequently claimed messages posted under his name on messaging site 4chan were fake.
Speaking to the Times, he claimed he made the decision to visit Afghanistan after watching tourism videos on YouTube. He said that when the takeover began, he could not refund his flights so chose to travel instead.
Mr Routledge also said he had accepted the possibility that he might die in Afghanistan. In a message addressed to friends on social media, he apparently wrote: ‘I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and something has not gone to plan resulting in this situation.
‘There was no convincing me otherwise and I knew the risks, it was a gamble I took that went wrong despite my confidence and jokes.’
A C-17 jet carrying 640 Afghan refugees that left Kabul on Sunday night as the Taliban claimed the city. The flight landed in Qatar. The refugees ran up the half-open ramp while US forces were preparing for take-off, according to an unnamed defense official cited by Defense One on Monday. At least one other C-17 has departed the area
Mr Routledge said he came across two armed convoys during the Taliban insurgency, and took a selfie on one of their gun emplacements
The Loughborough physics student hid at a United Nations safehouse in Kabul prior to being evacuated
Mr Routledge has also previously bragged of visiting Chernobyl, posting pictures in May saying it was two years since he visited the scene of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine
C-17 jets were pictured taking off from Kabul on Monday followed by hundreds of desperate Afghanis, some of whom were clinging to the wheels on the same side of the plane that the footage was taken from
Taliban hunt UK interpreter who is in hiding with family in Afghanistan after his visa to Britain was revoked at 11th hour
An Afghan interpreter is now being hunted by Taliban kill squads after his visa to the UK was revoked last week despite the militant group’s shadow courts passing a death sentence against him.
Ahmadzai, who is hiding with his family after at least one assassination attempt, was branded a ‘threat’ to UK security by Home Office officials despite bravely serving alongside senior British Army generals, one of whom called the claim ‘rubbish’.
He told the Stories of Our Times podcast: ‘The only actions left are either to remain in Kabul and get killed by the Taliban, to cross the border to Iran and go there, or to be helped by NATO countries.
‘They have sentenced me to death, and ordered their fighters that I should be shot and killed wherever I am found. Three weeks ago my son was with me when four gunmen tried to kill me but I recognised them and they fled.’
The interpreter – referred to only by his last name for security reasons – said that working for the British forces ‘was my mistake’, adding: ‘Not only have I risked my life and made the Taliban want to kill me, but I’ve also risked the life of my kids.’
His harrowing story emerged as Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary and a former soldier, fought back tears as he admitted ‘some won’t get back’ from Afghanistan after the capital, Kabul, fell to the Taliban.
Yesterday he told viewers: ‘I was fully prepared for death, I accepted it. This trip has been a test of God. I’m very religious so I believe I’ll be looked after.
‘Before I left I wrote a letter to my friends saying that if I died, not to feel guilty, that I would die happy and religious and proud.’
He said that he would be safe because of a £15 joke purchase he made which gave him the right to use the title ‘Lord’, seen on his American Express card.
The student told his followers: ‘The Taliban may see that as reason enough to keep me alive, thinking it may hold some negotiating power as they’ll think I’m important. Let’s hope it won’t get to that stage though.’
MailOnline has contacted the British Foreign Office and the UN for comment.
Today hundreds of Afghanis fleeing the Taliban were lined up behind barbed wire at Kabul airport and forced to wait for rescue – after a desperate rush to board evacuation flights yesterday saw one person crushed to death in the wheel housing of an aircraft and three others fall from the sky.
Dozens of people – some clutching immigration documents – formed orderly queues under the noses of Afghan security guards and foreign troops at Hamid Karzai airport on Tuesday as they waited to board military flights out of the country, fearing bloody reprisal by the Islamists.
It was a far cry from the pandemonium which broke out on Monday as thousands of desperate people rushed the runway and clung to the wheels of departing US jets – with horrifying video appearing to show how one man was crushed to death in the landing gear of a C-17 transport plane.
British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan get on an RAF plane at Kabul Airport before being relocated to the UK, in this undated Ministry of Defence photograph. At least 12 military flights took off from the airport today, officials said
People gather outside Kabul Airport today as the Taliban declared an ‘amnesty’ and urged women to join their government
Military personnel board a Royal Air Force Airbus A400M transport plane, after arriving by bus at RAF Brize Norton today, as Britain sends 900 soldiers back to Afghanistan over the coming days to help with repatriations and evacuations
The footage, which emerged today, shows what appears to be a man’s legs protruding from the side of the jet and failing against the side of the aircraft. A US official later confirmed that human remain were found in the landing gear of a jet, which made an emergency landing after declaring a mid-air state of emergency.
The US has said it may issue up 80,000 special immigrant visas to those who helped with combat operations and are likely to face revenge attacks from the Taliban, while 7,500 troops currently guarding the airport – including 6,000 Americans and smaller numbers of British, Turkish and Australians – will also need to leave.
At least 6,000 people have already managed to flee the country on evacuation flights that began Sunday, with a dozen departing on Tuesday – most of them flying to neighbouring Middle Eastern countries before continuing their journeys west. Spain, France and India confirmed their diplomatic staff had been evacuated today.
Joe Biden has been slammed over the hasty withdrawal which critics said has ‘humiliated’ the US on the world stage and drew comparisons with the retreat from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war.