An ex-Royal Marine has blamed US President Joe Biden for ‘stopping’ his mission to get 200 cats and dogs out of Afghanistan.
Pen Farthing has been engaged in a high-profile campaign to get his staff, their families and all the rescue animals from the Nowzad shelter – 140 dogs and 60 cats – out of the country amid the Taliban’s takeover and the fall of the Afghan government. He dubbed the mission ‘Operation Ark’ and was set for ‘safe passage’ this week.
However, just as the 52-year-old got ‘safely inside’ the airport circle with his whole team, he said he was turned back ‘into the chaos’ as a result of US policy.
‘All hell broke loose at the airport circle which is where I was, which is probably about a mile from the explosions across at the Abbey Gate and we had Taliban there firing into the air,’ he told BBC News.
‘One let off a full magazine on automatic from his AK-47 right next to the window of our bus where we had women and children in. And as we were trying to then flee from the airport we were getting tear-gassed so we were obviously trying to drive the vehicle when we can’t see anything. It was just the most horrific thing.’
Yesterday, August 26, ISIS-K suicide bombers and gunmen targeted those waiting at Kabul’s airport, killing at least 70 Afghans and 13 US troops. The terror attacks have sparked grave concerns from those conducting evacuations, with the UK’s airlifts due to end in a matter of hours.
Farthing tweeted how he’d went through ‘hell’ to get to the airport, without realising Biden had ‘changed paperwork rules just two hours earlier… we were turned away into the chaos of those devastating explosions’.
‘There’s nothing I can do. The staff are telling me it’s time for me to go. They don’t think a foreigner will be welcome here. Staff have asked me to take as many dogs and cats as I can. But now I can’t get them past the Taliban checkpoints,’ he said, adding that he believed his mission had ended.
It’s unclear what Farthing will do now evacuation efforts are drawing to a close. A plane from a country neighbouring Afghanistan was set to bring him and his team home, but it can’t land in Kabul until he’s back in the airport.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier hit back at criticism and claims of ‘blocking’ a flight for Farthing. ‘This is a total myth and is being peddled around as if that is why the pet evacuation hasn’t taken place… I never said I would not facilitate. I said no one would get to queue jump,’ he said.
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