The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) team which helped co-ordinate the evacuation of 26 Irish citizens from Kabul airport in Afghanistan has returned to Ireland.
In the first acknowledgement of the role of the secretive unit's involvement in the mission, the Defence Forces said members "secured the [Department of Foreign Affairs] personnel on the ground, liaised with key actors in the airport and assisted DFA in the processing and evacuation of identified Irish citizens/dependants.
"The team were also on standby to provide medical assistance if required. The teams' deployment and recovery were supported by both the Irish Air Corps and partner nation aircraft."
The nine rangers were deployed along with two senior diplomats to the airport for a 40-hour mission which was brought to a close due to the worsening security situation in Kabul.
On Thursday a suicide bomb outside the airport gates killed some 80 civilians and 13 US troops. Two British nationals and the child of a British national were among those killed in the attack, it emerged on Friday.
The joint diplomatic and military mission, known as an Emergency Civil Assistance Team, departed Kabul on Thursday.
Eight of the team departed on a French military aircraft destined for Paris while another three departed a few hours later on a Finnish aircraft, which also took 15 Irish citizens. This aircraft travelled to Helsinki via Tbilisi in Georgia on Thursday evening.
All troops are now back in Ireland.
The Defence Forces also published photographs of team members conducting security searches and comforting a small child at the airport.
The ARW is the Defence Forces’ special operations unit. It has been deployed on several missions in recent year to aid in the return of Irish citizens from hostile environments.