A former British soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says it’s “heartbreaking and devastating to see the country I fought in and fought for just go up in smoke”, following the takeover by the Taliban.
The fall of Kabul came almost exactly 11 years to the day after royal engineer Jack Cummings was injured in a bomb blast that left him in a coma for a month and saw him lose both of his legs.
Afghanistan live updates: All the latest as the Taliban establish new government
He told Sky News he “feels sorry” for the country he served in, and that he felt the sacrifices of the Western military forces were “in vain”.
The country is now poised to become the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, under Sharia law, after the hardline Taliban group swept to power.
Taliban officials declared the war is over, and it is in charge of 90% of government buildings.
Around 150,000 British military personnel served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, and 457 were killed.
When asked what he would say to Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who denied the sacrifices of British forces over the last two decades had been in vain – Mr Cummings replied: “Was it worth it?
“He said British soldiers didn’t die in vain, but I don’t think he will ever say that face to face with a grieving mum, wife, or father.”
“I lost my legs, I will never walk again and I am bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I knew the risks, I signed up, on the dotted line and I knew the risks going out. I was proud to serve my country.”
Mr Cummings continued: “I truly felt I was making a difference in Afghanistan – every bomb I was finding, was saving a life. But just seeing the Taliban… it’s horrendous.”
While he knew forces “couldn’t stay forever”, he said the speed of the resurgence had left him speechless.
“I send my best wishes to the 600 paras that have gone out and I hope they come home safe and sound and bring home as many as possible, including as many interpreters as they can get hold of,” he said.
“If anybody deserves the right to be free and live in peace and come to the UK, it is the interpreters that helped Western forces.”
He said he was “proud” to have served in the British Army, but said it had been tough watching the events unfold over the last two weeks.
“The devastation, the loss, how easy the Taliban have taken over the country, I am just lost for words,” he said.
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