Aug 23, 2021 - World

Taliban says there will be "consequences" if U.S. extends troop withdrawal

U.S. soldiers standing guard at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 20.
U.S. soldiers standing guard at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 20. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Taliban told Sky News Monday there would be "consequences" if the U.S. extended its troop withdrawal beyond Aug. 31 to complete the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies from the country.

Why it matters: The U.S. and its allies are quickly approaching the full withdrawal date with thousands left to still evacuate. President Biden has said troops will remain in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, and in remarks Sunday, he did not rule out the prospect of staying past the deadline.

What they're saying: "It's a red line," Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said. "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."

  • "If the U.S. or U.K. 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 added.

The big picture: About 10,000 to 15,000 Americans were still in the country as of last Wednesday, according to various reports.

  • Between 50,000 and 65,000 Afghans and their families await evacuation assistance from the U.S, according to Biden.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to push Biden to extend the withdrawal date in order to complete evacuations, though the Taliban would need to give its approval first, according to Reuters.

Go deeper: Pentagon enlists commercial airlines to help evacuation efforts

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