THE UK must not "cut-and-run" from Afghanistan, Nicola Sturgeon has said. 

The First Minister has said Nato nations must remain in Afghanistan for as long as required.

That's as UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visited Fort George, near Inverness.

Around 200 soldiers from 3 Scots the Black Watch have left the Highland base in readiness for deployment to Afghanistan.

During the visit, Wallace said the UK's Kabul evacuation effort is "down to hours now, not weeks" and conceded Britain's involvement will end when the US leaves Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Taliban said any attempt to continue the operation past the August 31 withdrawal date they've agreed with western forces would "provoke a reaction".

The UK Government has said it won't get all its people out by then and it's understood Boris Johnson will seek agreement for an extension with US President Joe Biden.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey has said approximately 1800 UK nationals and more than 2200 Afghans who helped British forces are the "focus" of the Government's evacuation efforts.

But Sturgeon says there is a "massive responsibility" to stay and help, given the circumstances surrounding airlifts.

She said: "I support calls to ensure that there isn't a cut-and-run operation in Afghanistan, that Nato countries are there and meeting their responsibilities for as long as is necessary.

"I think it is deeply regrettable that the current situation we're seeing unfold right now has been allowed to develop in the way that it has, but we have to go forward from where we are right now.

"The world has a massive responsibility towards people in Afghanistan and it's really important that that responsibility is lived up to."

When asked how many refugees Scotland would accept, she answered: "I'm hoping those discussions will continue and intensify over the coming days. There's been some correspondence between myself and Boris Johnson and between my ministers and UK Government ministers.

"We don't yet have a number that Scotland will welcome here, but I hope to get to that as soon as practically possible.

"Scotland stands ready and willing.

"There's lots of work to be done, lots of practical arrangements, but as well as living up to our responsibility to give refuge to people fleeing horrific circumstances like those seen in Afghanistan right now, we stand to gain a lot as well.

"Many of the Syrian refugees who came here are contributing massively to Scotland, they're establishing businesses and working to make a contribution.

"So this is not just one-way traffic, there are lots of mutual benefits here."

Johnson's appeal to Biden is expected during the G7 summit tomorrow. The US leader says his country "hopes" it won't have to take such a step.

Speaking to reporters in Fort George, Wallace said: "The Prime Minister is, obviously at the G7, going to try and raise the prospect of seeing if the United States will extend.

"It's really important for people to understand the United States have over 6000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework.

"We will have to go as well."

He went on: "I don't think there is any likelihood of staying on after the United States. If their timetable extends even by a day or two that will give us a day or two more to evacuate people.

"Because we are really down to hours now, not weeks, and we have to make sure we exploit every minute to get people out."

Earlier, Heappey conceded that the Taliban "gets a vote" on the evacuation deadline, ahead of the group seemingly ruling out a continued presence of British or American troops.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News: "This is something ... you can say it's a red line.

"President Biden announced this agreement that on August 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.

"It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, so it will provoke a reaction."

Meanwhile, it was reported that a firefight at one of the gates of Kabul's international airport killed at least one Afghan soldier on Monday.

The Foreign Office said it had sent five extra staff to Kabul airport, taking its total working on the evacuation effort in the capital to 19.

Heappey acknowledged there are still "thousands more" people eligible for evacuation, including British nationals. But he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have the military power to just stay there by force, but I don't know that the humanitarian mission we're embarked on at the moment, which is to evacuate as many people from Kabul as we possibly can, is helped by Kabul becoming a warzone."

The Ministry of Defence says 5725 people have been repatriated since rescue efforts began on August 13, including 3100 Afghan individuals and their families.

Royal Air Force flights carried 1721 people from Kabul on Sunday.