Afghanistan: Taliban expected to reach Kabul 'in seven days', ITV News learns

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The Taliban are expected to reach Afghanistan's capital Kabul in a week, ITV News has learned.

The militants were estimated to be just seven days away from seizing the capital despite reports earlier this week that US assessments had estimated it would take 90 days for the Taliban to enter Kabul, two senior Western diplomat sources told ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo.

The resurgent Taliban are currently fighting government forces in Logar province, some 30 miles - about an hour's drive - from the capital.

The US predicts the Taliban could overrun the rest of the country within a few months after seizing over much of the north and west of the country.

The fundamentalist Islamist group has taken 18 of the 34 provincial capitals in recent days, as the security situation in the country quickly deteriorates.

The Taliban took the city of Lashkar Gah on Friday, following their capture of Kandahar and Herat, as the lightening offensive presses on into new territory.

In the last 24 hours, the country’s second- and third-largest cities — Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south — have also fallen to the insurgents along with the capital of the southern province of Helmand, where American, British and NATO forces fought some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict.

A Taliban fighter stands guard over surrendered Afghan security member forces in the city of Ghazni. Credit: AP

Earlier on Friday, Boris Johnson said the UK can be “extremely proud” of its role in Afghanistan as he insisted the sacrifices made by British forces had not been in vain but said there was no military solution to the escalating crisis.

Following a meeting of the Government’s Cobra contingencies committee, the Prime Minister confirmed the “vast bulk” of the remaining UK embassy staff in Kabul would return in the next few days.

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Mr Johnson's comments come after an emergency Cobra meeting in the wake of the Taliban's increasing dominance in the country since most of the US and UK troops withdrew.

He said the government was stepping up efforts to relocate Afghans who had assisted British forces during their time in the country and who now face reprisals if they fall into hands of the militants.

Displaced Afghans, who fled their home due to fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel, take refuge in a public park Kabul Credit: AP

A team of Home Office officials to help deal with their applications will join 600 British troops due to fly out to the country to assist in the evacuation of the remaining UK nationals and embassy staff as the Taliban forces close in on the capital.

The Ministry of Defence said troops began deploying on Friday, with members of 16 Air Assault Brigade due to leave over the weekend.

There was, however, widespread dismay among MPs who claimed the country was being abandoned to its fate.