A Taliban spokeswoman told Sky News that the group will not accept a possible extension for withdrawal in Afghanistan under the terms of an agreement proposed by President Joe Biden.
In August, the US responded to the quick Taliban capture of Kabul airport by bringing in additional forces to secure the airport and help with the evacuation process. Biden is considering extending the pullout deadline as more people are still needed to be evacuated. Dr. Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban, responded, “It’s a red line.”
“This is something, you can say it’s a red line,” Shaheen said in a video interview with Sky News. “President Biden announced that on 31 of 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.”
“If they are content on continuing the occupation, so it would provoke a reaction,” he added.
Watch the interview below:
According to Reuters, a Taliban leadership spokesman also stated that foreign forces have not asked for an extension and reiterated the spokesperson’s stance that it would not be allowed.
The U.S. has increased the number of people that need to be evacuated. A recent White House statement notes that between August 22 at 3:00 am and August 23 at 3:00 am, 28 U.S. military flights evacuated 10,400 civilians from Kabul. Also, 61 coalition planes transported roughly 5,900 people from the combat zone in the fight against the Islamic State.
The total number of persons evacuated by the U.S. since August 14 now stands at around 37,000. According to a White House official, about 42,000 people have been evacuated since the end of July.
Some people evacuated, although it is unclear how many of them are Americans. To find out exactly how many Americans are in Afghanistan, the administration has struggled. It has been reported that the Taliban has physically assaulted some U.S. citizens in an effort to prevent them from getting to the airport.
Reports on Thursday debunking Biden’s statement that there is “no indication that they haven’t been able to get to the airport” cast doubt on his remarks on Friday about the deal with the Taliban, in which he welcomed citizens who wanted to leave the country safely.