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image sourceMoD/PA Mediaimage captionBritish forces began arriving in Kabul over the weekend to help with the evacuation

The UK government is confident it can get British nationals out of Afghanistan, with plans for hundreds to leave in the coming days, the defence secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told the BBC the military part of Kabul's international airport was open and secure, enabling those eligible to leave for the UK.

The UK is also evacuating Afghans who worked for the British forces.

The Taliban has claimed victory after taking over the capital of Kabul.

Most commercial flights from the airport have been suspended, leaving hundreds of Afghans who were trying to escape stranded.

But Mr Wallace said he had received assurances from the Taliban military leadership via a Middle East country that the airport would be allowed to function, enabling UK officials and forces to help people leave.

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He told BBC Breakfast 300 British passport holders had left Afghanistan on Sunday, with the government aiming to fly out a further 1,500 people over the next 24 to 36 hours or slightly longer.

"If we manage to keep it in the way we're planning to, we should have capacity for over 1,000 people a day to exit to the United Kingdom," he said.

"Currently, this is not about capacity on planes, it's about processing speeds, so that's why I'm trying to fix that."

The Foreign Office has advised more than 4,000 British citizens thought to be in Afghanistan to leave.

About 600 British troops have been sent to Afghanistan to help evacuate UK nationals, as well as Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for the UK, as part of Operation Pitting.

On Sunday evening the first flight of British nationals and embassy staff arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Last night the first flight of British Nationals and Embassy Staff arrived at RAF Brize Norton as part of Op PITTING.

The UK Armed Forces are supporting the evacuation of British Nationals and those eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program. pic.twitter.com/IyGNIMEaD0

— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) August 16, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Mr Wallace said the government "will try our very best" to get all those eligible out of Afghanistan by 31 August or sooner.

"If we can manage to keep the airport running in the way we are putting in place our people to deliver then I'm confident that by the end of the month we could get everyone out and actually hopefully sooner."

He added that some people would be left behind, for example those not currently in Kabul, but stressed the British evacuation programme was "open-ended" with no time-limit.