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'Some people won't get back' Defence Secretary chokes up over Afghanistan

16 August 2021, 08:07 | Updated: 16 August 2021, 12:58

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

'Some people won't get back' - this is the moment Defence Secretary Ben Wallace chokes up over the fate of people being 'left behind' in Afghanistan.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the British presence in Afghanistan was only there to process people set to return to the UK.

Live News: Desperate crowds descend on Kabul airport in bid to flee Taliban

The conversation comes as British troops race against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country's Western-backed government to the Taliban.

Read more: Afghanistan - Boris Johnson says change of regime 'clearly' taking place

Lead elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade were working with US forces to secure Kabul airport to ensure flights can continue as Afghans and foreigners alike scramble to leave.

Mr Wallace told LBC it was the right thing to do to bring back "all those people we have an obligation to."

Read more: First embassy staff and UK nationals arrive back from Kabul

He said he wanted to see "as many of these people come through the pipeline as possible."

Mr Wallace, who previously served in the Scots Guards, spoke about the evacuation effort from the country, which has fallen to the Taliban following the withdrawal of Western troops.

Visibly breaking down the Defence Secretary said he had "regret" that "some people won't get back."

"Some people won't get back and we will have to do our best in third countries to process them."

Read more: Afghan minister confirms 'peaceful transfer of power' to 'transitional government'

Read more: 'I won't leave my wife to die alone': British father refuses to flee Afghanistan

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Thousands of Afghans rushed to the airport in a bid to escape the Taliban. Picture: Getty

When asked why he seemed to feel it so personally, Mr Wallace said it was "because I'm a soldier."

"It's sad and the west has done what it's done and we have to do our very best to get people out and stand by our obligations."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said British and US forces, as well as forces from other nations, are continuing to fly people out of Kabul airport, while viral footage of people climbing onto planes had been taken from the civilian side of the airport.

Around 4,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans are thought to be in the city and in need of evacuation.

In a sign of the desperate situation, the British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow was said to be helping the small team of diplomats still in the country to process the applications of those hoping to leave.

There was a particular concern for the safety of Afghans who worked with British forces when they were in the country as interpreters and in other roles amid fears of reprisals if they fall into the hands of the insurgents.

The Taliban insisted that they were seeking a peaceful takeover of power and were prepared to offer an amnesty to those who had worked with the Afghan government or with foreign governments.

However, those assurances were being treated with deep scepticism by many British MPs amid reports of threats to those who remain and their families.

Labour called on the Government to urgently expand the resettlement scheme for Afghans to ensure that none were left behind.