The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced today that the first of up to 3 A400 transport aircraft are en route to begin the evacuation of Spanish nationals from Kabul Airport.
Two of the aircraft which had flown from their home base in Zaragoza have been at a holding airfield in the United Arab Emirates while a third equiped with medical supplies is set to leave the Torrejon base outside Madrid today.
The Spanish operation is being conducted within the NATO framework but also coordinating with French and Italian authorities for the evacuation of Afghans who have been given the right to settle within the European Union.
El primer avión español ya ha salido de Dubái rumbo a Kabul para evacuar al primer grupo de españoles y colaboradores en Afganistán.
Una tercera aeronave medicalizada de las Fuerzas Armadas ha salido esta mañana desde Madrid a Dubái para colaborar en las labores de repatriación. pic.twitter.com/gZ9SffRDyd
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) August 18, 2021
In addition to Spanish embassy staff and nationals. It is believed that around 400 Afghan nationals maybe evacuated by the Spanish Air Force.
According to a report in press agency Reuters, the Spanish Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that ” all Spain’s staff in Kabul, Afghanistan, either Spanish or Afghan, are currently in the airport ahead of their evacuation to Spain.”
“We have transported all the embassy staff as well as protection crews to the airport.”
The operation will bring to a close Spain´s military involvement in Afganistan.
At its peak Spain had around 2,500 troops in the country.
The last Spanish combat troops left Afghanistan in May of this year when King Felipe VI , presided over a ceremony honouring those who “died giving the best of themselves, their young lives, to give peace and freedom to others.”
The war in Afghanistan has cost Spain more than 3.5 billion Euros. In addition, 102 members of the armed forces died, including 62 victims of the Yak-42 accident in 2003.