Afghanistan: all foreign troops must leave before deadline

All foreign troops left in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal deadline in September will be at risk as occupiers, the Taliban told the BBC.

It comes as reports indicate that 1,000 troops, mostly Americans, may remain on the ground to protect diplomatic missions and the Kabul international airport.

NATO’s 20-year military mission in the country is virtually complete.

But violence in the country continues to increase, with the Taliban taking more territory.

As Afghan forces prepare to take on security alone, concern grows over Kabul’s future.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that capturing Kabul militarily was “not the policy of the Taliban”.

But speaking to the BBC from the militant group’s office in Qatar, he said no foreign forces – including military contractors – should remain in the city after the withdrawal is complete.

“If they leave behind their forces against the Doha deal, then it will be up to our leaders to decide how to proceed,” Shaheen told the BBC.

“We would react and the final decision will be up to our leaders,” he said.

Diplomats, NGOs and other foreign civilians would not be targeted by the Taliban, he insisted, and no permanent protection force was needed for them.

“We are against foreign military forces, not against diplomats, NGOs, workers and NGOs that work and embassies work – this is something our people need. We will not pose any threat to them,” he said. he declared.

Shaheen called last week’s withdrawal from Bagram Airfield – once the largest US military base in Afghanistan – “a historic moment.”

As part of a deal with the Taliban, the United States and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all of their troops in exchange for a pledge from the militants not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in areas they control.

President Joe Biden has set September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States – as the deadline for the total withdrawal of American troops, but reports suggest the withdrawal could be complete in a matter of days.

An Afghan MP speaking on behalf of the Afghan government said the withdrawal was being carried out irresponsibly.

MP Razwan Murad told the BBC the government was ready for talks and a ceasefire and the Taliban would now have to prove they were committed to peace.

Gunmen say they will support Afghan army near Kabul

Some armed men pledged to support the Afghan army in the defense of Kabul against the Taliban

Mr Shaheen denied that the militant group played a role in the recent increase in violence.

He insisted that many districts fell to the Taliban through mediation after Afghan soldiers refused to fight.

On Sunday, the Taliban captured another area in southern Kandahar province. Activists say they now control about a quarter of the country’s nearly 400 districts.

The Taliban spokesman called the current government “dying” and called the country an “Islamic emirate” – an indication that the group was considering a theocratic base to rule the country and that it was unlikely. accepts the Afghan government’s election demands.

Shaheen said the elections had so far not been discussed in talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in October 2001. The group housed Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda figures linked to the September 11 attacks in the United States.

President Biden said the US withdrawal was justified because US forces ensured that Afghanistan could not once again become a base for foreign jihadists to plot against the West.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, meanwhile, insists the country’s security forces are perfectly capable of keeping insurgents at bay, but many believe the withdrawal risks pushing the country back into Taliban grip.


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