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Situation uncertain Irish troops set to pull out of Afghanistan after less than 48 hours amid rising terrorist threat

Unknown number of Irish citizens have been evacuated in past 24 hours

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Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 25, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/DAVID_MARTINON via REUTERS

Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 25, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/DAVID_MARTINON via REUTERS

Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 25, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/DAVID_MARTINON via REUTERS

Irish troops are to pull out of Afghanistan after less than 48 hours on the ground at Kabul Airport, Independent.ie understands.

A team of diplomats and Army Rangers have helped secure the safe passage of an as yet-unknown number of Irish citizens and residents from the country.

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With the situation now increasingly uncertain and the threat of terror attack by so-called Islamic State militants a decision is expected to be taken in the coming hours for the team to leave the airport.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has called a meeting with the leadership of the Irish Defence Forces at the National Emergency Coordination Centre in Dublin city centre for this morning.

It is likely that they will decide to withdraw the troops at the earliest opportunity within the next 24 hours.

Latest reports say there are 24 Irish citizens and 12 children in Afghanistan who are trying to get out.

However, this number may actually have increased since the elite rangers began their work. It is understood a number of Afghanistan citizens with a right to live in Ireland have identified themselves and sought a way out.

In a tweet this morning, Mr Coveney said: “Our Team of diplomats & Army Rangers in Kabul are safe, busy & doing fantastic work with partners. We remain in close contact with them to make decisions on exit. We are also in continuing contact with all Irish individuals & families in Afghanistan to support & advise.”

The United States has urged people to leave the area around Kabul airport due to the threat of a terror attack ahead of their August 31 deadline for a withdrawal of troops.

The US embassy in Kabul advised citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately. The message cited "security threats".

Likewise the British government has told people to "move away to a safe location”, adding that there is “very, very credible" intelligence that Islamic State militants are planning an imminent attack.

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British armed forces minister James Heappey said: "I can't stress the desperation of the situation enough. The threat is credible, it is imminent, it is lethal. We wouldn't be saying this if we weren't genuinely concerned about offering Islamic State a target that is just unimaginable."

The Dutch government said it expects to carry out its last evacuation flight out of Afghanistan on Thursday, leaving some who are eligible to leave behind, and called on citizens not to go to Kabul airport due to a deteriorating security situation.

"The Netherlands has been informed by the United States that it has to depart today and will most likely perform the last flights later today," the government said in a letter to parliament.

"This is a painful moment because it means that despite all the great efforts of the past period, people who are eligible for evacuation to the Netherlands will be left behind."

Dutch evacuees can no longer be assisted in and around the airport due to the security situation and are "strongly recommended not to come to the airport," it said.

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