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Elite Army Rangers to fly to Kabul to help evacuate Irish citizens

Nine special forces soldiers and two Department of Foreign Affairs officials will travel to Afghanistan to get remaining Irish people out of the country


Hundreds of people run alongside a US military plane at Kabul airport

Hundreds of people run alongside a US military plane at Kabul airport

Hundreds of people run alongside a US military plane at Kabul airport

IRISH special forces are to be sent to Kabul to aid the evacuation of Irish citizens trying to get out of the country.

The mission will last just a number of days and will see nine Irish Army Rangers and two Department of Foreign Affairs officials travel to Kabul to oversee the evacuation of 36 remaining Irish citizens.

It is believed the mission will leave for Kabul in the next 24 hours and the delegation will oversee the return of Irish citizens and their dependents.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed that a “small team of diplomats” and soldiers will be sent to Kabul.

They will travel via Paris with the French military and are expected in the country by Thursday for what is being described as a short-term mission.

The soldiers will coordinate the extraction of the Irish citizens on flights with the US, UK and European military.

It comes as a small number of Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in Ireland this evening, the first of about 200 the country has pledged to take in under the International Refugee Resettlement Programme.

US officials said today that 16,000 people have been evacuated through Kabul Airport in the last 24 hours alone.

Ten Irish people have now been evacuated from Afghanistan, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.

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More than 30 Irish citizens and their family members are still waiting to leave the country.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the department remains "in close contact" with these individuals.

"The situation remains volatile and access to the airport continues to be a problem. Work continues on options for evacuation, the department is in ongoing contact with EU and other partners on the ground in Kabul," the spokesperson said.

"There are also a small number of Irish citizens who are working for UN and international organisations and currently plan to stay in Afghanistan."

On Sunday, Mr Coveney said the situation at Kabul airport continues to be volatile, and he encouraged Irish citizens not to travel there unless advised to by the Irish embassy.

Mr Coveney said: "The situation at the airport yesterday was really chaotic and on the outskirts of the airport it was very tragic - a number of people were killed in crowds being crushed.

"The advice to citizens is to listen to the advice they are getting from our embassy team and not to travel to the airport without instruction or advice to do that.

"This is a very difficult and complicated situation for all of the countries that are present in Kabul airport trying to get their citizens out."

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