‘There will be consequences’: Taliban warn US and Britain to get out, saying August 31 withdrawal deadline is a ‘red line’ and it will ‘provoke a reaction if they are intent on continuing the occupation’
- Joe Biden set the deadline of August 31 for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
- Taliban spokesman Dr Suhail Shaheen said they will not allow for an extension
- Boris Johnson will discuss a potential extension to the deadline with G7 leaders
The Taliban has threatened a ‘reaction’ if the US or UK extend the deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Joe Biden has set a deadline of August 31 for all Americans to have left the country, but UK military sources said another fortnight was needed to evacuate everyone.
Taliban spokesman Dr Suhail Shaheen has warned of ‘consequences’ if Western forces stay beyond the end of the month.
Taliban spokesman Dr Suhail Shaheen has warned of ‘consequences’ if Western forces stay beyond the end of the month
He told Sky News: ‘It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.
‘If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.
‘It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.’
Dr Shaheen also branded it ‘fake news’ that many are fleeing Afghanistan because they are scared, saying it was purely ‘economic migration’, despite the desperate scenes at Kabul airport, adding that women have nothing to fear in the new regime.
Biden appeared to push back on extending the August 31 deadline last night, saying: ‘Let me be clear – the evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful.
Evacuees from Afghanistan as they arrive in an Airbus A400 transport aircraft of the German Air Force Luftwaffe in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
‘No matter when it started, when we began. It would have been true if we had started a month ago, or a month from now.
‘There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see on television. It’s just a fact.’
He said about 11,000 people were lifted out of Kabul in less than 36 hours and said defence officials ‘hope’ they will not have to extend the evacuation operation.
However in a glimmer of hope that an extension was still possible, he added: ‘There are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process.
Afghan families enter into Pakistan through a border crossing point in Chaman, Pakistan
‘Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the situation as quickly and safely as possible,’ Biden said.
‘Any American that wants to get home will get home.’
He also said the US government is ‘looking to move our Afghan allies’ out of the country as well, noting that citizens of NATO allies and Afghan allies were amongst the 11,000 individuals evacuated this past weekend.
Boris Johnson is preparing to hold a meeting with the leaders of G7 countries to push Biden to delay the withdrawal of US troops.
The UK wants to double its Kabul airlift numbers to 12,000 this week, but Johnson accepts that the success of the mission is reliant on US troops maintaining control of Kabul airport.