Union flag is lowered in Afghanistan in symbolic act marking the withdrawal of ...

Union flag is lowered in Afghanistan in symbolic act marking the withdrawal of ...
Union flag is lowered in Afghanistan in symbolic act marking the withdrawal of ...

The Union Jack has been lowered in Afghanistan in a symbolic act marking the withdrawal of British troops following a 20-year mission.  

The ceremony, carried out alongside American forces, honoured the 456 British troops killed in the country since the war began after 9/11.  

Thousands of British personnel have also been wounded in battle against the Taliban. More than 38,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and 70,000 injured. 

The ceremonial lowering of the flag took place at Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Telegraph reported.

The striking of the flag, also known as the striking of the colours, is a deeply evocative military gesture which can be traced back to the surrender of ships in naval warfare. 

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Around 750 UK troops were in Afghanistan, a small number are now still on the ground but are expected to fly out imminently, sources told The Telegraph.   

Wing Commander Matt Radnall, Officer Commanding 7 Force Protection Wing, carries a carefully folded Union Flag as the very last British troops board the last Chinook helicopter to leave Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as UK and Coalition forces carry out their Tactical Withdrawal finally leaving the base and handing it over to Afghan National Army

Wing Commander Matt Radnall, Officer Commanding 7 Force Protection Wing, carries a carefully folded Union Flag as the very last British troops board the last Chinook helicopter to leave Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as UK and Coalition forces carry out their Tactical Withdrawal finally leaving the base and handing it over to Afghan National Army

M Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, during operation against Taliban forces in Barikyu, Nothern Helmand Province of Afghanistan in April, 2014

M Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, during operation against Taliban forces in Barikyu, Nothern Helmand Province of Afghanistan in April, 2014

The final flights from the country will be carrying the Black Watch - the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots) - as part of a NATO desire to speed up the exit amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation as the Taliban gains ground. 

Italian and German troops quit the war zone earlier this week, while US soldiers will have finally exited by July 4 - bringing forward the symbolic deadline of September 11 previously set down by Joe Biden.   

NATO nations revealed earlier this year that they would leave Afghanistan in solidarity with Biden's decision that it was 'time to end the for ever war.'

The exit appears to have been expedited after intelligence reports suggested the Taliban could depose Afghanistan's elected government within months. 

Commenting on the loss of districts around the country to the Taliban, America's top general there, Austin Miller, said: 'A civil war is certainly a path that can be visualised if this continues… and that should be of concern to the world.'

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Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence select committee, told The Telegraph: 'It's clear withdrawal plans are being expedited in an attempt to get ahead of any potential Taliban attacks.

'This is far from what success was supposed to look like.'

The Tory praised the 'superb' professionalism of British troops over the last two decades but he said the mission lacked 'any wider geopolitical strategy.'

Mr Ellwood predicted that 'Afghanistan is now likely to slide towards a full scale civil war.' 

The Taliban's resurgence, which has included attacks against civilians, is a matter of grave danger for hundreds of

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