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image sourcePA Media

Around 600 UK troops are to be sent to Afghanistan to assist British nationals to leave, the government has announced.

It comes as the Taliban has seized the cities of Ghazni and Herat – taking control of 11 provincial capitals in less than a week.

Military personnel will provide protection and logistics support for the relocation of UK nationals, as well as Afghan staff and interpreters.

On Friday the Foreign Office advised all British nationals to leave.

It is estimated that around 4,000 British citizens are still in the country.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the security of British nationals, military personnel and former Afghan staff was the government's first priority and that it "must do everything we can to ensure their safety".

"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," he said.

Mr Wallace said deployment was a "pre-planned phase" and was to "enable the next step of leaving".

But the Ministry of Defence said the additional deployment was "in light of the increasing violence and rapidly deteriorating security environment in the country".