AROUND 600 troops are to be deployed to Afghanistan to help British nationals leave the country, the government has announced.

The Ministry of Defence said additional military personnel will arrive in Kabul over the coming days, after the Foreign Office changed travel advice on Friday to recommend all British nationals leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, while commercial travel options remain available.

It comes as the head of the British armed forces warned a dangerous “security vacuum” risks opening up in Afghanistan, potentially enabling international terrorism to take a grip once again.

The Taliban have been making sweeping gains in the country and have taken control of 11 provincial capitals in less than a week.

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The US State Department has also confirmed that they will be evacuating personnel from the US embassy in Kabul, with US troops assisting at Kabul airport.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I have authorised the deployment of additional military personnel to support the diplomatic presence in Kabul, assist British nationals to leave the country and support the relocation of former Afghan staff who risked their lives serving alongside us.

“The security of British nationals, British military personnel and former Afghan staff is our first priority. We must do everything we can to ensure their safety.”

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of Defence Staff, said earlier today that Afghanistan was already facing a “humanitarian tragedy”.

The National:

Around 600 British troops are being sent to Afghanistan to assist in evacuating British Nationals

It comes as the Taliban took two more cities, Ghazni and Herat, in the same day, taking the total under their control to 11.

Carter said it was a “fair assessment” that fighters affiliated to al Qaida were among the Taliban insurgents.

He added: “If we end up with a scenario where the state fractures, and you end up essentially with a security vacuum, then there are absolutely ideal conditions for international terrorism and extremism to prosper yet again.”

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With the Taliban again on the advance, Carter said they were seeing many of the atrocities on the battlefield which they had been associated with in the past.

He said: “We are seeing atrocities being committed, we are seeing war crimes being committed, we are seeing women being brutalised, we are seeing forced marriages – all the sorts of things that the Taliban were notorious for in the past.”