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Britain expediting relocation of interpreters in Afghanistan ahead of US withdrawal

Britain expediting relocation of interpreters in Afghanistan ahead of US withdrawal
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The United Kingdom is expediting the relocation of interpreters in Afghanistan ahead of the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by Sept. 11.

The British Ministry of Defense said in a statement that local staff who worked for the U.K. government in Afghanistan, including interpreters, will be eligible under a program that began in April that prioritizes relocating those who were threatened as a result of working with the U.K.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our interpreters and other locally employed staff who risked their lives working alongside UK forces in Afghanistan,” Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said in a statement.

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“As we withdraw our Armed Forces, it is only right we accelerate the relocation of those who may be at risk of reprisals,” he said.

Currently, the U.K. is prioritizing the relocation of current or former locally employed staff who are under “serious threat to life” over their work with the U.K. regardless of their employment status, rank, role or how long they served.

According to the BBC, more than 3,000 Afghans are expected to be allowed into the U.K., adding to 1,300 that have already made it to the nation.

The move comes as U.S. and NATO-led forces begin withdrawing from Afghanistan. Military officials previously told The New York Times that U.S. troops could be fully withdrawn by mid-July, two months ahead of schedule.

While the Pentagon did not confirm that time frame, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Biden, Putin agree to launch arms control talks at summit | 2002 war authorization repeal will get Senate vote | GOP rep warns Biden 'blood with be on his hands' without Afghan interpreter evacuation Overnight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' MORE said last week that withdrawal was “slightly” ahead of schedule.

Meanwhile, Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense: Biden, Putin agree to launch arms control talks at summit | 2002 war authorization repeal will get Senate vote | GOP rep warns Biden 'blood with be on his hands' without Afghan interpreter evacuation Israeli military says it killed Palestinian woman who tried to hit soldiers with car Senate Armed Services member: Administration should have 'hair on fire' over Afghan interpreters MORE, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that plans are underway to evacuate Afghans that worked for the U.S. government, including interpreters.

He told reporters that plans are “being developed very, very rapidly here, not just interpreters but a lot of other people that have worked with the United States.”