The Taliban in Afghanistan have warned the US and NATO to remove all their troops from the country by September 11.
According to the Taliban, any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after Nato’s September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers.
The warning comes amid reports that 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect diplomatic missions and Kabul’s international airport.
The US and Nato’s 20-year military mission in Afghanistan prompted by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the NewYork Twin Towers has all but ended, but violence in the country continues to rise, and the Taliban continues to take more territory.
Under a deal with the militant group during the Trump regime, the US and its Nato allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the Taliban not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.
President Joe Biden set a deadline of 11 September – the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US – for American troops to fully withdraw
Afghan forces say they are prepared to take charge of security of the country but the Taliban has seized about 40 percent of the provinces ,and concern is is growing whether they can secure Kabul once the US leaves
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen speaking to BBC said seizing Kabul militarily was “not Taliban policy”.
He said no foreign forces – including military contractors – should remain in the city after the withdrawal was complete.
“If they leave behind their forces against the Doha agreement then in that case it will be the decision of our leadership how we proceed,” Shaheen told the BBC.
“We would react and the final decision is with our leadership,” he added.
Diplomats, NGOs and other foreign civilians would not be targeted by the Taliban, he insisted, and no ongoing protection force for them was needed.
“We are against the foreign military forces, not diplomats, NGOs and workers and NGOs functioning and embassies functioning – that is something our people need. We will not pose any threat to them,” he said.
Shaheen described last week’s withdrawal from Bagram Airfield – once the largest US military base in Afghanistan – as a “historic moment”.
US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in October 2001 after finding out that the group had been harbouring Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the 9/11 attacks in the US.
Biden says the American pull-out is justified as US forces have made sure Afghanistan cannot become a base for foreign jihadists to plot against the West again.