Afghan chaos traumatic for UK veterans

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A British junior defence minister says he was wrong when he said that some former British soldiers had taken their own lives due to anger over the US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"Actually the thing I was referring to was inaccurate," James Heappey, a junior defence minister, told BBC TV. "We're looking very, very carefully at whether or not it is true that someone has taken their life in the last few days."

Heappey earlier told Sky News that some British military veterans from the Afghan war had taken their own lives because they were so devastated by the chaotic withdrawal of US-led forces from the country and the victory of the Taliban.

A spokesman for Britain's defence ministry denied that veterans had taken their own lives due to the withdrawal.

Heappey served in the British army in Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Iraq.

The humiliation of the lightning Taliban takeover in Afghanistan after a 20-year war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and at least a trillion dollars has dismayed veterans of the war.

Britain lost 457 armed forces personnel in Afghanistan, or 13 per cent of the international military coalition's 3500 fatalities since 2001.

Britain fears the Taliban's return and the vacuum left by the West's chaotic withdrawal will allow militants from al-Qaeda to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, just 20 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

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