Afghanistan: All foreign troops must leave by deadline - Taliban

According to the Taliban, any foreign troops that leave Afghanistan after the September deadline for withdrawal will be considered occupiers. This comes amid reports that US troops may remain on the ground in order to protect Kabul's international airspace and diplomatic missions. The 20-year-old military mission of NATO in the country has come to an abrupt halt. However, violence continues to increase in the country with the Taliban gaining more territory. Concern grows for Kabul's future as Afghan forces prepare to assume security. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson, said that seizing Kabul militarily is "not Taliban policy". Speaking to the BBC in Qatar from the militant group’s office, he stated that no foreign forces, including military contractors, should remain in the city following the withdrawal. Mr Shaheen stated to the BBC that if they withdraw their forces from the Doha Agreement, then it would be up to our leadership to decide how we proceed." He said, "We would respond and the final decision rests with our leadership." He insisted that diplomats, NGOs, and other foreign civilians were not targeted by the Taliban and that no protection force was required. "We oppose foreign military forces. Not diplomats and workers. NGOs functioning and embassies operating - that is what our people require. He said that we will not be a threat to them. Last week's withdrawal of Bagram Airfield, once the largest US military base on Afghanistan, was described by Mr Shaheen as a "historic moment". The Taliban and the US made a deal. In return, they agreed to withdraw all their troops. Continue the story President Joe Biden gave a deadline for American troops to withdraw by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. However, reports indicate that the withdrawal may take place within days. A representative of the Afghan government, a member of parliament from Afghanistan stated that the withdrawal was being done irresponsibly. Razwan Murad, the MP, stated to the BBC that the government was open for talks and a ceasefire, and that the Taliban should prove they are committed to peace. Some armed men pledge support to the Afghan army for defending Kabul from the Taliban. Shaheen denied any involvement of the militant group in the violence. After Afghan soldiers refused to fight, he claimed that many districts were lost to the Taliban by mediation. The Taliban seized another area in the southern Kandahar provincial government on Sunday. According to the Taliban, they now control around a quarter of all the country's almost 400 districts. A Taliban spokesperson described the current government's status as "moribund" while referring to Afghanistan as the "Islamic Emirate" - a sign that the Taliban envisaged a theocratic system of governing the country, and was unlikely to accept Afghan government demands for elections. According to Mr Shaheen, elections have not been discussed in negotiations between Taliban and Afghan governments. In October 2001, the Taliban were overthrown by US-led forces. Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders were residing in this group, which was linked to the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Biden stated that the US pull-out was justified because it has made Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists from abroad. While Ashraf Ghani, Afghan President, insists that security forces in Afghanistan are capable of keeping insurgents away, many fear that the withdrawal could lead to the country falling back under the control of the Taliban.

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