ANKARA (Dispatches) – Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of foreign troops, a Taliban spokesman has said, effectively rejecting Ankara’s proposal to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States-led NATO forces depart.
Asked in a text message whether the Taliban rejected Turkey’s proposal to keep forces in Kabul to guard and run the international airport after other foreign troops leave, the Taliban spokesman in Doha responded that they should go as well.
“Turkey was part of NATO forces in the past 20 years, so as such, they should withdraw from Afghanistan on the basis of the agreement we signed with U.S. on 29th Feb 2020,” Suhail Shaheen told Reuters.
“Otherwise, Turkey is a great Islamic country. Afghanistan has had historical relations with it. We hope to have close and good relations with them as a new government is established in the country in future,” he added.
All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden last month pushed that date back to September 11.
The Taliban warned that the passing of the May 1 deadline for a complete withdrawal “opened the way for” the militants to take every counteraction they deemed appropriate against foreign forces in the county.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly weighing the option of conducting airstrikes in Afghanistan after the full withdrawal of American troops from the country if the capital Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban militant group.
U.S. military officials are actively discussing how to respond if the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from the war-ravaged country produces consequences with substantial national security implications, a new report by The New York Times revealed on Wednesday, quoting anonymous U.S. officials.
This comes as Afghan officials have said they had been told by their American counterparts that the United States would stop any takeover of major cities, a vague statement without any clear backing.
That support would be tough to maintain over any extended period.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext of the so-called war against terror. Washington has spent trillions of dollars waging war on the impoverished country, which has left thousands of Afghan civilians and American soldiers dead.