Taliban issues new evacuation ‘red line’ threat to Biden and vows to ‘guarantee the safety’ of desperate Afghans if they stop trying to flee the country
All western forces must be out of Afghanistan by August 31, the Taliban has insisted today – a day after warnings of ‘consequences’ if they overstayed the deadline.
Chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Islamists will accept ‘no extension’ of the deadline and want all foreign forces out of the country as soon as possible.
He spoke as Joe Biden meets with G7 leaders at a virtual summit today where he will face pressure to keep troops in Afghanistan for longer.
The UK, France, Germany and Spain have all warned that evacuations of citizens and visa holders will not be complete by that date – meaning some of those promised sanctuary will get left behind.
Speaking in Kabul today, Mujahid urged thousands of people still trying to flee the country via Kabul airport to ‘go home’ – adding: ‘We guarantee your safety’.
Mujahid said America and other western governments should stop evacuation flights immediately and accused them of taking the ‘educated elite’ out of Afghanistan which will hurt rebuilding efforts.
‘Unfortunately the Americans are still.. taking Afghan people out of the country to an uncertain future,’ he said.
‘We would like to say to the Americans – our doctors, our engineers, our educated elite, we need those people in the country.
‘We do not want them out of the country to work in [American] institutions, or work as plain laborers in those countries.’
Quizzed by journalists about the repression of women under Taliban rule, Mujahid insisted restrictions on their movements are ‘temporary’ while security is fragile.
Asked about atrocities being reported to the UN since the Islamists took power, he suggested this was the result of fighters not being ‘trained’ properly.