A rescue operation launched by the Bundeswehr on Monday is to evacuate around 10,000 people from Taliban-held Afghanistan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin, German news sites report.
Merkel stressed that the capabilities of the Bundeswehr were limited, so that the mission could only be carried out with the support of US troops securing the international airport of Kabul, as participants of a meeting of the CDU presidium reported.
The German troops will have to evacuate about 10,000 people. A group of 2,500 people has already been registered, including Bundeswehr helpers with families. Some of them have already been sent to Germany, and it is not yet known whether 600 of them have already left Afghanistan.
She stressed the importance of supporting Afghanistan’s neighbours and the entire region in view of the possible influx of refugees. However, it will depend on the Taliban whether the border can be crossed at all.
Merkel said that the “bitter” developments in Afghanistan were inextricably linked to the decision of the government in Washington to withdraw US troops from the Asian country and to the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001 that preceded the invasion.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, former CDU chairwoman, also announced at the election board meeting that the Bundeswehr could only carry out the rescue operation with the support of the USA. The airlift will be maintained for as long as possible and as many people as possible will be evacuated from Afghanistan.
The Luftwaffe’s first transport aircraft took off from a base in Germany on Monday morning. The operation is to take place in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, where Afghans and German citizens fleeing Taliban revenge in Kabul will be transported. Their safety is ensured by the paratrooper units of the Rapid Reaction Force (DSK). The evacuated persons will be brought from Tashkent to Germany on charter flights.
The Bundeswehr is subject to the control of the German Bundestag, and its operations require the consent of Parliament. Due to the advance of the Taliban, however, there is no time to approve the rescue operation in Afghanistan, so that the Bundestag will subsequently approve the deployment.
At the end of June, the last German troops returned home from Afghanistan, bringing to an end an almost 20-year deployment of the Bundeswehr.
After the terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, Germany was the second largest contributor after the United States to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Resolute Support (RS). At times, more than 5,000 German soldiers stayed in the Asian country. The Taliban rebels have used the withdrawal of international troops to launch an offensive against government forces, who have offered little resistance. The radical Islamists took Kabul on Sunday.