How British troops have to act as the gatekeepers to a new world for desperate Afghans

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine gets to see first-hand how British and Taliban forces are working together to manage the crowds at Kabul airport

British soldiers are being forced to decide between "life and death" for Afghan refugees as the UK and the Taliban work together to manage the flow of people desperately trying to get into Kabul airport and onto safe passage.

ITV News has seen one of these entrances to Kabul airport where, at one end the Taliban manage the crowds, and on the other British soldiers are forced to make the agonising decisions over who can get on a plane and who will be left behind.

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People queue for hours, having already travelled through several Taliban checkpoints and convinced the militants they have the right paperwork to leave the country, all the while being watched by armed guards.

At the very end the path narrows to a corridor only a few feet wide wedged between a shipping container and a high wall.

After all the queuing they still could be rejected for not having the right papers, or failing the questions asked by members of the Parachute Regiment.

British troops have to decide which Afghans will be let onto planes out of the country.

Once on a plane, they are evacuated to another country but they are still not entirely safe.

ITV News saw several military planes deploy rapid nose dive landings and steep take-offs to avoid the threat of gunfire.

A senior Taliban Commander told ITV News they are "making up as they go along" when it comes to assisting evacuation efforts saying they have no experience when it comes to "crowd control."

The Taliban leader, who is in charge of managing evacuation efforts told ITV News, they had spent the last 20 years fighting and were not prepared to handle the current situation.

Taliban guards watch as people queue to get into the airport. Credit: Sean Swan

The desperate situation has been made worse by the upcoming deadline for US forces to leave the country.

The Taliban has said there will be "consequences" if the US breaks their agreement and remains in the country past August 31.

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Defence secretary Ben Wallace reiterated on Monday that "not everyone will get out" of Afghanistan even if they're legally entitled to enter the UK.He said the UK would be unable to unilaterally keep soldiers in Afghanistan past the August 31 deadline agreed by the US and Taliban because the huge support from America would cease.

Taliban members talking to ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine. Credit: Sean Swan

Mr Wallace said: "It's really important for people to understand the United States have over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework... and we will have to go as well.

"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."

A British soldier in Afghanistan Credit: Ministry of Defence

He added: "It is moving rapidly on the ground, if we get more days, we get more people out... but then if there was a security concern and we had to seal the gate, suddenly you lose hours and if you lose hours you lose people."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to President Biden on Monday about the situation in Afghanistan.

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No10 said: "They discussed the ongoing efforts by the UK and US to coordinate the rapid and safe evacuation of our nationals and those who previously worked with our governments from Kabul International Airport.

"The leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure those who are eligible to leave are able to, including after the initial phase of the evacuation has ended. "

So far the UK has flown more than 9,000 people out of Afghanistan. Credit: Ministry of Defence

The spokesperson also said they were both committed to using the G7 and the UN Security Council "to stabilise the situation, support the Afghan people and work towards an inclusive and representative Afghan government."

The Ministry of Defence said on Monday: "British forces will remain in place to ensure those Afghans who are eligible for relocation to the United Kingdom that want to, are registered and evacuated as the UK accelerates the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy."

President Biden has said he is hoping to have fully withdrawn from the country by August 31 but hasn't publicly made a definite commitment to the deadline so far.

Asked about delaying the withdrawal of American troops during a press conference on Sunday, Mr Biden said: “Our hope is that we don’t have to extend but there are discussions going on about how far we are.”

Evacuation efforts are ramping up despite the chaos at the airport.

The Pentagon said on Monday 16,000 people had been evacuated from Kabul overnight.

They said so far the US has evacuated 37,000 people since the operation started on August 16.

The Pentagon also said overnight a member of the Afghan security forces was killed in a firefight.