On Monday, the Taliban warned that there would be ‘consequences’ if the US and its allies remain in Afghanistan beyond the August 31st withdrawal deadline.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News that foreign troops staying beyond the withdrawal date is a “red line” for the Taliban. “If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations — the answer is no. Or there would be consequences. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” he said.
There are currently 5,800 US troops at the Kabul airport for the evacuation mission. It’s not clear how many US citizens need to leave Afghanistan, but estimates put the number between 10,000 and 15,000. As of Saturday, 3,376 US citizens have been evacuated since the airlift began on August 14th.
President Biden said he will get every American that wants to leave out of the country, even if it means staying past August 31st. He also made a similar promise for the Afghans seeking refuge, which he estimates is somewhere between 50,000 and 65,000. The Pentagon said Monday that it has evacuated 37,000 people in total since August 14th.
Pentagon officials conceded that staying after August 31st would require additional talks with the Taliban, but Shaheen is making it clear the group would not approve such a request.
With the deadline approaching, US allies such as the UK, France, and Germany are pressuring Biden to extend the occupation of the Kabul airport to facilitate more evacuations. An unnamed Biden administration officials told Reuters that the president is expected to make a decision on the deadline as early as Tuesday.