Afghanistan: Taliban fire warning gunshots as desperate Afghans jam road to airport in bid to escape

Watch ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine's eyewitness report from Kabul airport, where Taliban militants fired gunshots as a warning to Afghans trying to flee

Thousands of terrified Afghans remain desperate to leave the country as a Taliban commander told ITV News anyone eligible to fly will be allowed - but those without documents should not go to the airport.

In Kabul’s airport, large crowds are still trying to get away and many more are forming long queues and bringing the road to the airport to a standstill.

ITV News was there on the road to what many see as their only chance of freedom on Tuesday, where warning gunshots could be heard to disperse crowds.

Our crew spoke to a Taliban commander.

A Taliban commander, who allowed an ITV News crew to briefly film the chaotic scenes and approached to make an appeal, said he is open to contact with the Americans and the British.

Anyone approved for safe passage out of the country by the Americans or the British they claim, will be allowed into the airport.

“All those who are eligible should come forward and we will let them through, people who do not have documents should not come here, they are just creating problems,” the commander told ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine.

“We have not been in contact but if they [the Americans and the British] want to be in touch we are ready, it would help us to assess those people eligible to leave.”

Hundreds crowded into a US cargo plane leaving Kabul on Monday. Credit: US Department of Defense/Defense One

As thousands look to leave Taliban rule, the insurgents' spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised they will honour women’s rights - but within the norms of Islamic law.

Speaking at their first press conference on Tuesday, he doubled down on the Taliban’s efforts to convince the world it has changed from the group that imposed a brutal rule on the country between 1996 and 2001.

His words come on the day a picture was released showing hundreds of Afghans tightly packed in a US military plane after they were evacuated from Kabul on Sunday.

Senior International Correspondent John Irvine on staying in the same hotel as the Taliban

It was a much larger number than expected and came near the record for the most people ever flown in the Boeing airlifter.

A defence official told Defense One that instead of forcing the fleeing citizens off the military cargo plane, “the crew made the decision to go.”

Given the circumstances, those few hundred will be seen as the lucky ones by their compatriots, many of whom are clinging on to a faint hope of catching a flight.

Queues stretching down the road to the airport.

Taliban soldiers guard numerous checkpoints on the road to the airport and, as the ITV News crew neared the entrance, gunshots can be heard as a crowd of people runs in the opposite direction.

John Irvine, camera operator Sean Swan and news editor Lutfi Abu Aun initially filmed in secret, unaware of how the Taliban would react to their presence.

The Taliban appear to be sticking to their promise to allow those accredited by the Americans and the British to leave. They say they are policing the area to avoid a repeat of Monday’s shocking scenes.

The situation was too fraught for the Taliban to approve of our stay.

On Tuesday the situation at the entrance of the airport was too fraught for the Taliban commander to allow more than five minutes of filming - he said we had seen enough and asked us to leave.

As our crew drove away, the queue heading the other way only seemed to get longer.

See more from John Irvine in Afghanistan: 'Here in Kabul, it has taken less than 24 hours to turn back time 20 years'