A Taliban fighter with an M16 assault rifle stands in front of the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021.
Stringer | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Taliban said Tuesday the group will not allow Afghan nationals to leave the country and oppose any extension of evacuation flights, a development that comes a week before U.S. and coalition forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan.
“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave the country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.
“She [the Americans] have the opportunity, they have all the resources, they can take with them all the people who belong to them, but we will not allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline, “he said, adding that evacuations by foreign Troops carried out after August 31 would be a “violation” of a promise by the Biden government to end the US military’s mission in the country.
“The way to the airport is now closed. Afghans are not allowed to go there now, foreigners are allowed to go, but we have prevented Afghan nationals from going because the crowd is bigger, there is a risk that people will lose their lives there,” could a Be a rush, “said Mujahid, according to an interpreter during the broadcast.
President Joe Biden previously announced that he would be extending the departure date beyond August 31, but has yet to do so. Biden is expected to speak on U.S. and coalition forces evacuation and relocation efforts on Tuesday after an emergency G-7 meeting.
U.S. Airmen and U.S. Marines lead qualified evacuees aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 21, 2021.
US Air Force | Reuters
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that the mission’s schedule has not changed.
“We are still determined to win all the Americans who want to quit and we still believe that we have now been able to increase the capacity and flow, we believe we have the ability to do so through that End of the month, “said Kirby.
“The Taliban have made their expectations very clear,” said Kirby when asked about public statements by the Taliban against a prolonged US military operation in Afghanistan.
“Without going into detail, I don’t see much dissonance [between public and private conversations with Taliban],” he added.
On Monday, a Taliban spokesman issued a similar warning regarding a possible extension in an interview with Sky News.
“It’s a red line. President Biden has announced that they will withdraw all of their forces on August 31st. So if they are extending them, it means they are extending the crew while it is not required, ”Suhail Shaheen said, according to the report.
“If the US or UK is looking for extra time to evacuate, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences, ”he added.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a press conference Monday that the government believed it could complete its evacuation efforts by the end of the month.
“We work with the Taliban and consult with the Taliban on every aspect of what is happening in Kabul,” said Sullivan. “Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how to proceed and no one else,” he added.
Read more about developments in Afghanistan:
The White House said Tuesday that the U.S. has evacuated or helped evacuate or help evacuate approximately 21,600 of them within 12 hours on Monday, about 58,700 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14.
The US has relocated around 63,900 people since the end of July, the White House said. According to the State Department, several thousand Americans are still waiting to be evacuated.
More than 5,000 US soldiers are currently on site in Kabul and support the evacuation efforts in an emergency. Almost 200 aircraft are in some way earmarked for evacuation.
The Pentagon said evacuees are flying from Kabul to temporary safe havens in the Middle East and Europe, including U.S. installations in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Afghan nationals arriving in the United States will be accommodated at either Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Fort Lee, Virginia, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, or Fort Bliss, Texas.
“It is very possible that we will have to deploy additional US military facilities here in the US,” said Kirby.