Following former UK marine Paul 'Pen' Farthing's successful campaign to leave Afghanistan with 200 dogs and cats, activists are racing to rescue hundreds of animals stranded in Kabul amid the looming August 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave the country . A chartered plane carrying Farthing and his animals landed at London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning after it took off from Kabul airport late Saturday following a high-profile, polarising campaign named Operation Ark.
Now, Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR) has reportedly secured a plane for a similar rescue mission amid widespread support on social media.
Organizers of 'Operation Hercules' say the campaign requires US military support for the canine cargo to take off from Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport, which has been thronged by thousands of Afghans over the past weeks as they attempt to flee the country.
US citizen Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, who has been spearheading 'Operation Hercules' to evacuate around 250 animals and 40 shelter workers, claimed she had been asked by Taliban militants to leave the country, without the animals and workers.
“I'm working on getting out with my staff, and so if it is all on one plane, I go with them. But I think I want to make sure that everybody's on the flight first,” she told NBC News.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has lent support to 'Operation Hercules', urging people to lobby US President Joe Biden and his administration for use of US resources at the airport to get KSAR staff and animals to safety.
US Army veteran and KSAR campaigner, Tommy Amenta, said two previous attempts for rescuing the animals and workers had fallen through.
Stampedes, firing, bombing and gun attacks in and around the Kabul airport have left over a hundred people including 13 US troops dead since the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15.
The airport was under attack on Sunday again as a missile defence system intercepted five rockets that were fired overnight, according to news agency Reuters.