Speaking to the Telegraph, Lord David Richards said he was “pretty certain” that logistics allow only two more days for civilian rescue efforts to give time for the British military themselves to pull out.
The former Chief of the Defence Staff, however, said he was sure that they would continue to “sneak others in who arrived late along with their own people.”
The assessment follows yesterday’s G7 meeting in which allies failed to convince U.S. President Joe Biden to keep U.S. troops—who are securing Kabul airport—beyond the deadline.
Before the G7 meeting, the Taliban had again warned that they would not tolerate foreign troops past the deadline, and said that they were tightening their grip on the streets around the airport to block Afghan nationals from getting to the airport.
Kabul airport is the only route out of the country for evacuees, who are fleeing in fear of reprisals by the Taliban for assisting foreign troops or helping opponents of the Taliban.
French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune today told C News TV that it is “very probable” that France’s operations to evacuate its citizens and partners from Afghanistan will end on Thursday.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says that “almost all” single-nationality UK citizens who wanted to return are now out of Afghanistan.
He declined to say when the last evacuation flight would leave Kabul.
“The military planners are working through the limited time they need to draw down their personnel and equipment and so they will firm up those details,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when asked about that date.
“We will use every hour and day we’ve got to maximise that throughput to get as many of those residual cases out.”
In total, 10,291 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 13, according to the last figures from Downing Street. More than 5,500 of those are Afghans and their families.
U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S. troops in Afghanistan faced mounting danger as they pushed to complete evacuations by an Aug. 31 deadline, with aid agencies warning of a looming humanitarian crisis for the population left behind.
Russia began evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan on Aug. 25 with its first airlift since the start of the crisis.
The U.S. exit from Afghanistan is a security headache for Moscow, which sees Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears radical Islamism spreading into the region.
PA and Reuters contributed to this report.