The Taliban has warned that there would be “consequences” in case the United States and its allies remain in Afghanistan beyond the stipulated deadline of Aug. 31. The Taliban issued the warning in the midst of the U.S. government ramping up efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of civilians trying to escape the country.
Thousands of U.S. troops continue to operate in Afghanistan to facilitate the evacuation of Americans and Afghan nationals from Kabul airport through airlifts. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is under escalating pressure to extend the withdrawal date.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that President Biden had spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue. Sullivan assured that Washington is closely coordinating with allies for the evacuation process. “We believe that we have time between now and the 31st to get out any American who wants to get out,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen showed no signs of compromising on the deadline. In an interview with Sky News, Shaheen stated that any foreign military presence in the country beyond the stipulated deadline would be deemed as “extending occupation.”
The British government acknowledged that any discussion with regards to extending the Aug. 31 deadline would require a high level of cooperation from the Taliban.
Meanwhile, a blast at Kabul airport has stepped up pressure on Western nations carrying out the evacuation process. The attack, made by an Islamic State suicide bomber, killed 85 people including 13 American soldiers. 150 people were wounded.
General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command stated that U.S. commanders were on high alert for more attacks by the terror outfit and believed that some attacks were thwarted by the Taliban. He confirmed that the U.S. would continue with the evacuations despite the possibility of these threats.
Since Aug. 14, Washington has evacuated around 82,300 people, out of which 4,500 were American citizens. The U.S. government is still searching for roughly a thousand more Americans who are believed to be in the country. These people have not responded to phone calls, emails, and other messages.
Boris Johnson promised to continue the evacuation process until “the last moment” while condemning the “despicable” attack at the airport. According to the Ministry of Defense, the UK has flown out 13,146 individuals from Afghanistan.