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SAS in daring desert raid to rescue 20 troops surrounded by Taliban fighters

THE SAS was involved in a daring desert raid to rescue 20 elite soldiers surrounded by the Taliban, hundreds of miles from safety.

Special forces troops were left stranded in Kandahar province after Taliban militants took over Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters on containers at Kabul airport

British and US troops help with the Kabul evacuation

The soldiers sent an SOS request to bosses back in the UK asking to be taken out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, the Daily Mail reported.

They couldn’t use the airfield at Kandahar as it had been overrun by the Taliban.

The SAS troops then fought their way to a secret location in the desert and went into hiding.

They sent the coordinates of their location to Special Forces headquarters, using coded messages.

RAF chiefs then had to find an aircraft that was capable of landing and taking off in the desert to rescue the troops.

Online flight trackers picked up a UK Hercules transport aircraft flying over the Gulf. The aircraft had turned off its identification sensors, meaning radars couldn’t follow it to the desert where the SAS soldiers were hiding.

It then made a dramatic landing in the desert during the night.

A source told the Mail: “It was a very hush, hush mission. Kandahar had fallen to the Taliban on Friday and the guys were down there for five days after that.

“The enemy were rampant and killing a lot of Afghan Special Forces whom the SAS had been working with. So it was a very urgent mission.

“Credit to the Hercules crew from 47 Squadron for landing the aircraft at night on rough terrain and getting her airborne again with the guys and their equipment aboard. It was textbook.”

The aircraft then reappeared on flight radars as it headed towards a military base in Dubai.

It comes as Boris Johnson will urge Joe Biden to delay the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan as thousands try to escape the Taliban.

Mr Johnson will use a G7 meeting on Tuesday to ask the US President to keep American troops at Kabul airport beyond his August 31 deadline.

Unless Mr Biden decides to keep troops in Afghanistan, then their UK counterparts will also withdraw from the airport within days, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The UK government is preparing for thousands of Afghans to attempt to leave their home country after the Taliban’s takeover.

Mr Johnson is also expected to meet with senior Cabinet ministers on Monday to discuss establishing “processing hubs” for refugees coming through Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Military commanders have identified August 25 as potentially the last day they can process refugees – including people who worked as British interpreters, the Daily Mail reported.

The last British evacuation flight may therefore have to leave as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Britain will ramp up mass evacuation plans and will aim to fly up to 6,000 people out of Afghanistan this week, The Times reported.

Furious former generals have urged Mr Johnson to continue the Afghanistan evacuation mission without the US “to get every last Brit out”.

Ex-military top brass say even if US forces pull out, the UK should go it alone.

They say our claim to be “global Britain” will be left in tatters if we cannot continue the airlift ourselves.

Retired Major General Tim Cross, who served in Iraq and Kosovo, said:

“What’s the point of having armed forces if we cannot hold a single airfield? It makes the whole global Britain idea a joke.”

However, the Ministry of Defence ruled out remaining without the US — while other ex-military chiefs warn it would be too dangerous.

Mr Biden has refused to rule out extending the August 31 deadline for evacuations in Afghanistan.

The commander-in-chief said US forces would stay as long as necessary to rescue citizens and their Afghan allies from the airport in Kabul.

But he claimed there was “no way” to evacuate significant numbers of people from Afghanistan without the “pain, loss and heartbreaking images” seen over the past week.

President Biden, speaking from the White House, said: “Let me be clear – the evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful.

“Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the situation as quickly and safely as possible. Any American that wants to get home will get home.

“There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see on television.”

Mr Biden said defence officials “hope” they will not have to extend the evacuation operation, but added: “There are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process.”

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