- August 23, 2021
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Afghanistan Caos: No extension to foreign troop withdrawal deadline- Taliban forces
The armed group warns of ‘consequences if the foreign troops delay their withdrawal over the ongoing evacuation of citizens and vulnerable Afghans.
The Taliban will not agree to an extension of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan, a spokesman for the group told the press.
The move would mean “extending occupation” and that is “a red line”, Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar, said on Monday.
US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the “hard and painful” airlift of Americans and tens of thousands of others from Afghanistan’s capital is accelerating, but he would not rule out extending it beyond the August 31 deadline he set before the Taliban’s swift takeover.
The airport has been the scene of chaos since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on August 15 as US and international forces try to evacuate citizens and vulnerable Afghans. A NATO official has said that at least 20 people have died in and around the airport in the past week.
An Afghan security guard has been killed in a firefight between unknown gunmen and Afghan forces at the north gate of Kabul airport, the German military said, as thousands thronged the airport, seeking to flee Taliban rule.
Three more people were injured in the gun battle on Monday morning that has also involved German and United States forces, the German military said on Twitter.
Germany looking at evacuations after Kabul airport closes
Germany is looking into ways to evacuate people from Afghanistan beyond the window of opportunity to fly them out of Kabul airport, a foreign ministry spokesman says.
“As long as the situation on the ground allows, we want to keep the air bridges active and evacuate people from Kabul airport,” the spokesman told a regular government news conference in Berlin.
“However, we are already thinking beyond this period and are already trying to find solutions for the time after(wards),” he said, adding that Germany was talking with the Taliban about enabling as many people as possible to leave Afghanistan.
Qatar is an ‘impartial mediator’ amid Afghanistan evacuations:
Qatar is working as an “impartial mediator” in dealings with the Taliban while aiding ongoing evacuations of foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans from the country, Qatar’s foreign minister said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said the Gulf state – which hosted talks between the US and Taliban that culminated in the 2020 agreement to withdraw US and foreign troops as well as hold subsequent intra-Afghan peace talks – is using its unique position to stress to the Taliban the “importance of acting and behaving as an engaging party over there as part of the Afghan society”.
Taliban: No extension to foreign troop deadline for evacuations
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” said Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
“It’s a red line. [US] President [Joe] Biden announced that on August 31 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.”
He added: “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”
Taliban says its fighters retook three northern districts
Taliban forces have recaptured three districts in northern Afghanistan that fell to local militia groups last week, according to a Taliban spokesman.
The districts of Bano, Deh Saleh, Pul e-Hesar in Baghlan province were taken by local militia groups in one of the first signs of armed resistance to the Taliban since their seizure of the capital Kabul on August 15.
By Monday, Taliban forces had cleared the districts and were established in Badakhshan, Takhar and Andarab near the Panjshir valley, according to the Twitter account of spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Iran calls for restraint, ‘inclusive’ Afghanistan government
Iran’s foreign ministry has called on “all parties” in Afghanistan to refrain from using violence, saying Tehran supports the establishment of an “inclusive” government in Kabul.
“All groups and political parties [in Afghanistan] must refrain from using force and proceed using negotiation and talks,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters at a televised press conference in Tehran.
Iran “is in constant communication with all political sides in Afghanistan” and “supports the peaceful transition of power to an inclusive government,” he added, stressing that “the crisis has no military solution”.
Khatibzadeh said Iran hoped that such a government would be able to build a “safe, blooming and stable Afghanistan” using the “opportunity” of foreign forces’ withdrawal.
WHO says cannot fly medical supplies into Afghanistan
The World Health Organization says that 500 tonnes of medical supplies including surgical equipment and childhood pneumonia treatments due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions.
“They were ready and planned to be delivered to Afghanistan to arrive this week. But now that the airport is closed to commercial flights, we can no longer get them in,” said spokesperson Inas Hamam in an emailed statement to Reuters news agency.
She said the WHO was calling for empty planes to divert to its storage hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to collect the supplies on their way to pick up evacuees from the country.