The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has reiterated that the militant group will not accept any extension for foreign evacuations past the August 31 deadline, adding that Afghans are no longer allowed to go to Kabul airport.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mujahid insisted that the Taliban has not and will not grant foreign governments a prolonged window to evacuate their citizens from Afghanistan, and said that all repatriations should be done by the end of the month. The US has the resources and planes to complete the repatriation mission by August 31, he added.
Foreign embassies should not close or halt their operations in Afghanistan, he continued, saying their security has been assured by the insurgent group.
Mujahid also stated that the Afghan crowds gathered at Kabul airport in search of a way out of the country will be allowed to return to their homes, with their safety guaranteed by the Taliban.
The spokesman’s comments come as the G7 leaders are set to hold a meeting later Tuesday, chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on unfolding events in Afghanistan and coordinating foreign policy. It is expected that London will ask US President Joe Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan past the end of the month to aid in the evacuation process.
The UK’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace earlier on Tuesday remained sceptical on the prospect of an extension, weighing in that “not only because of what the Taliban has said but also… the public statements of President Biden, I think it is unlikely.”
Wallace also warned that the UK will not be able to get everyone out on time, while Spain expressed regret at being unable to rescue all of the Afghans who have aided its troops due to the “dramatic” situation on the ground if the US does not push for a prolonged date.
Countries have evacuated almost 60,000 people over the last ten days, with the effort escalating as the Taliban seized the capital Kabul on August 15.
The Biden administration has come under mounting pressure over its handling of the US military withdrawal and ongoing efforts to evacuate both American citizens and the Afghans who aided the military in the war-torn country. However, the US president insisted on Sunday that the evacuation process would have always been “hard and painful no matter when it started or when we began”