The Latest: Last UK troops begin arriving from Afghanistan

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Afghan evacuees from Afghanistan sit in a bus after the arrival of the second flight with 95 passengers at the International Airport in Tirana, Albania, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. Albania on Friday housed its first group of Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country despite days of chaos near the Kabul airport, including an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

LONDON — Military planes carrying British troops and diplomats from Kabul are landing at a U.K. air base after the U.K.’s two-week evacuation operation ended.

The U.K. ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, was among those who arrived Sunday at RAF Brize Norton northwest of London, hours after the government announced that all British personnel had left Kabul.

Britain says it has evacuated more than 15,000 U.K. citizens and vulnerable Afghans in the past two weeks but that as many as 1,100 Afghans who were entitled to come to the U.K. have been left behind.

Vice Adm. Ben Key, who was in charge of the British operation, said: “We tried our best.”

In a video message, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “colossal” effort, saying it was “a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.”

But he is facing strong criticism over the failure to bring to safety all those Afghans who helped British forces during the 20-year deployment in Afghanistan that began in the wake of 9/11.

Johnson acknowledged that Britain “would not have wished to leave in this way,” but said “we have to recognize that we came in with the United States, in defense and support of the U.S. and the U.S. military did the overwhelming bulk of the fighting.”

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Biden: Another attack likely, pledges more strikes on IS

— Slain Marine who cradled baby at Kabul airport loved her job

— GOP rift widens amid growing hostility to Afghan refugees

— Taliban success in Afghanistan seen as boost for extremists

— Explainer: How dangerous is Afghanistan’s Islamic State?

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

TIRANA, Albania — Two more planes have brought Afghans fearing the Taliban to Albania, bringing the total number of evacuees to 457.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday the two planes landed at dawn with 154 and 28 Afghans, respectively. Most of them will be temporarily housed at a student campus in the capital Tirana, while others were sent directly to hotels.

Albania aims to shelter all the evacuees in hotels instead of camps to give them a sense of normalcy.

Albania was among the first countries to offer housing to Afghans who have worked with U.S. and NATO forces and others fearing revenge following the Taliban takeover.

The Afghans in Albania come from different backgrounds, including activists and university staff, and include children.

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MADRID — The U.S. Embassy in Spain says that a third flight sent by American forces to Spain has arrived at the Rota military base.

The flight arrived early Sunday with 220 evacuees from Afghanistan.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. State Department is urging all Americans in the vicinity of the Afghanistan’s Kabul airport to leave the area immediately because of a specific, credible threat.

The warning early Sunday morning says U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time. It specifically noted the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport.

A suicide bombing at the airport on Thursday killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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