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Taliban won’t allow Afghans to leave country

A Taliban fighter holding an M16 assault rifle stands outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. Stringer | Reuters


Taliban won’t allow Afghans to leave country


The Taliban announced on Tuesday that they will not let Afghan people leave the country and will oppose any extension of evacuation planes, a development that comes just a week before US and coalition soldiers are scheduled to leave Afghanistan.

The statement came as US President Joe Biden stated that he intends to keep his August 31 deadline for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan if the Taliban does not impede existing evacuation operations or airport access. Top American allies have already requested an extension so that additional individuals can be flown out.

In a dramatic move, the Taliban closed Kabul Airport on Wednesday and stated that Afghans would no longer be allowed to exit the country. This comes only a day after Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid held a news conference in which he refused international evacuation requests and stated that the terror group would not let any more Afghans to leave the country. The Taliban, infringing on the rights of its own countrymen, stated that although foreigners would be permitted to proceed to the airport, all Afghan nationals would be halted.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said, “We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave.”

“They [the Americans] have the opportunity, they have all the resources, they can take all the people that belong to them but we are not going to allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline,” he said, adding that any evacuations carried out by foreign forces after Aug. 31 would be a “violation” of a Biden administration promise to end the US military mission in the country.

“The way to the airport has been closed now. Afghans are not allowed to go there now, foreigners are allowed to go but we have stopped Afghan nationals to go because the crowd is more, there is danger that people will lose their lives, there might be a stampede,” Mujahid said during the broadcast, according to an interpreter.


Mujahid said that Afghan physicians and professors “should not leave this country, they should work in their own specialist areas.  They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries.”

Several stories have surfaced of targeted deaths of people who have been forced to return to Afghanistan. There have also been reports of house-to-house searches, school fires, and restrictions on Afghan women’s rights. Afghans have been rushing to airports to flee the Taliban government. Over the last week, heartbreaking photos and videos have surfaced from Kabul Airport.

When asked about the Taliban’s statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it shouldn’t affect Afghans who are being evacuated by the US. “No. That is not how you should read it,” Psaki said.

“Our expectation, which we have also conveyed to the Taliban, is that they should be able to get to the airport,” she later said.

Thousands of terrified citizens have attempted to flee by running behind aircraft or military jets. Afghan villagers were photographed hanging to a C-17 Globemaster’s undercarriage and landing gear last week. After falling from mid-air, two Afghans, including a young player, died in the tragedy.

The mission’s schedule has not changed, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, who spoke to media on Tuesday.

“We remain committed to getting any and all Americans that want to leave out and we still believe certainly now that we have been able to increase the capacity and the flow, we believe that we have the capability, the ability to get that done by the end of the month,” Kirby said.

When questioned about public Taliban remarks against a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, Kirby said, “The Taliban have been very clear about what their expectations are.”

“Without getting into details, I’m not seeing much dissonance [between public and private conversations with Taliban],” he continued.

Many educated individuals, particularly women, have fled the nation since the Taliban gained power. Women were barred from working and attending schools and colleges under the Taliban’s last reign.

During an interview with Sky News on Monday, a Taliban spokesperson offered a similar warning about a possible extension.

“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August 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,” Suhail Shaheen said, according to the report.

“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added

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