Nowzad rescue shelter founder Pen Farthing has safely landed safely in the UK with his rescue animals, becoming one of the last remaining British nationals to flee Afghanistan
A former Royal Marine has landed safely in the UK after fleeing Afghanistan with rescue cats and dogs.
Pen Farthing is one of the last Brits to make it out of the South Asian country following the Taliban takeover with the US set to withdraw troops on Tuesday.
Dominic Dyer, one of Pen’s supporters, confirmed to the Mirror that Pen has now landed back in the UK and all of the animals are safe.
The Daily Mail is reporting that he left Heathrow shortly after his arrival to be reunited with his wife in Norway.
The last UK flight purely for civilians left before his chartered plane, and any further flights will be a mix of military and civil servants.
He video called his wife Kaisa Markhus from inside Kabul airport on Friday to tell her he had made it through with the animals – hours after the terror attack.
But he was “devastated” after his Afghan workers were barred from evacuating and now face an uncertain future.
Pen’s flight was delayed and he faced a nervy wait along with the animals from the Nowzad rescue shelter.
Kaisa said she was relieved that he had made it to the airport in the immediate aftermath of the ISIS suicide explosion which killed 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers.
But had said she “won’t celebrate until he has landed”.
She told the Mail on Friday night: “The second I saw him safely inside [the airport]… you can imagine. I know Pen had a very hard choice. He faced that same choice when he was inside the airport with his staff and their families on Thursday and the animals and the staff were not allowed through.
“So, he went back to the compound to ensure everyone was safe and to discuss with them what to do. They decided he should go to the airport again with the dogs.
“He was devastated to leave his staff but knew that by removing both the dogs and himself he would remove two big risk factors.”
British troops helped load Pen’s animals onto a plane in Kabul on Friday after the charity founder raised more than £200,000 to charter an aircraft for his animal rescue operation, according to reports.
The Ministry of Defence are said to have confirmed UK armed forces helped the group at the airport.
Kaisa, 30, said she cried as she left Kabul without her animals on an almost empty plane last week.
Pen claimed on social media his team and rescue animals had managed to reach Kabul airport on Thursday, only to be “turned away” due to changes in paperwork rules made by the US some hours earlier.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the effort to rescue Pen and his animals had “taken up too much time” of his senior commanders “when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis”.
In a series of tweets he then hit out at criticism for his remarks from Pen’s supporters, in which he condemned “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards MoD staff.
Pen previously clashed with Mr Wallace over his refusal to allow the evacuation of him, his animals and staff.
He tweeted: “You picked on the wrong person to back down. I served 22 years as a Royal Marine. We don’t quit.”