US President Joe Biden has stressed a “swift and forceful” response if the Taliban attempts to disrupt the US evacuation from Afghanistan.
“Once we have completed this mission, we will conclude our military withdrawal,” Biden told journalists after the Taliban seized all major cities in Afghanistan.
The President said it would be wrong to ask American troops to fight for democracy when Afghan troops would not.
US troops are attempting to restore air operations at Kabul airport where Afghan nationals were filmed clinging to planes in an attempt to escape.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” the President said, mentioning he had inherited Donald Trump’s policy of withdrawing all US forces from the country by May 1.
“There is never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he said.
“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden added.
He said he had urged the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban.
“Mr Ghani insisted that the Afghan forces would fight. But obviously he was wrong.”
Biden was defiant on his decision to withdraw troops and said the nation’s “only vital national interest” in Afghanistan was preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.
“Our mission was never supposed to be creating nation building.
“There is no chance one more year, five more years or 20 more years of American boots on the ground would make any difference.”
The US Government would defend its troops “with devastating force if necessary,” should the Taliban try and interfere with evacuation attempts, the President said.
The US has supported the move of 2,000 Afghans and is working to move more Afghans eligible for Special Immigrant Visas, Biden said.
Ministers said the UK government was not considering sending British forces into the country again but warned of potential sanctions.