All foreign troops must leave by deadline – Taliban

All foreign troops must leave by deadline - Taliban
Some armed men have pledged to support the Afghan army in defending Kabul against the Taliban. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: The Afghan Taliban said that any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after Nato’s September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers.

It comes amid reports that 1,000 mainly US soldiers could remain on the ground to protect Kabul’s international airport and diplomatic missions.

Nato’s 20-year military mission in Afghanistan has all but ended.

But violence in the country continues to rise, with the Afghan Taliban taking more territory.

As Afghan forces prepare to take charge of security alone, concern is growing for the future of the capital Kabul.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for Taliban, said seizing Kabul militarily was “not Taliban policy”.

But Mr Shaheen said no foreign troops – including military contractors – should remain in the city after the withdrawal was complete.

In an interview with BBC, he said: “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.”

He added: “We would react and the final decision is with our leadership.”

He insisted that diplomats, NGOs and other foreign civilians would not be targeted by the Taliban, and no ongoing protection force for them was needed.

The Taliban spokesman said that they 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.

Mr Shaheen described last week’s US troops withdrawal from Bagram Airbase – once the largest US military base in Afghanistan – as a “historic moment”.

You may read: Last US and Nato forces leave key Afghanistan’s Bagram base