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British foreign minister fires back over accusation that critical gate at Kabul airport was left open for UK personnel

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A senior British official denied accusations that a key gate was left open at the Kabul airport prior to the ISIS-K terror attack to allow British personnel to pass through the gate.

What is the background?

Politico reported Monday that top American commanders wanted to close the Abbey Gate — the location of the terror attack — but kept "the gate open longer than they wanted in order to allow their British allies, who had accelerated their withdrawal timeline, to continue evacuating their personnel, based at the nearby Baron Hotel."

The reporting is based on classified notes taken during a meeting hosted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shortly before the attack. The allegation, as the report explained, is that American officials had a "detailed plan" to shut the Abbey Gate, but kept it open to help British allies.

How did Britain respond?

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab categorically denied the accusation.

"Look, we coordinate very closely with the U.S., in particular around the ISIS-K threat that we anticipated, although tragically were not able to prevent," Raab said on Sky News. "But we, it's certainly right to say that we got our civilian staff out of the processing center by Abbey Gate — but it's just not true to suggest that other than securing our civilians staff inside the airport that we were pushing to leave the gate open."

"In fact, and let me just be clear about this, we were issuing changes of travel advice before the bomb attack took place and saying to people in the crowd, which is what I was particularly concerned that certainly U.K. nationals and anyone else should leave because of the risk," he added.

In fact, Raab explained in a separate interview with BBC News that British operations never necessitated leaving the Abbey Gate open at the Kabul airport.

"We also shifted the civilian team that we had in the Baron Hotel to the airport, because [being] a stone's throw away from where the terrorist attack took place, it clearly wasn't safe, but none of that would have required or necessitated Abbey Gate to be left open," Raab explained.

Anything else?

The Pentagon strongly rebuked Politico for publishing its story, but did not deny the material facts.

"This story is based on the unlawful disclosure of classified information and internal deliberations of a sensitive nature," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, according to Politico.

"As soon as we became aware of the material divulged to the reporter, we engaged Politico at the highest levels to prevent the publication of information that would put our troops and our operations at the airport at greater risk," he added. "We condemn the unlawful disclosure of classified information and oppose the publication of a story based on it while a dangerous operation is ongoing."

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