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The Taliban has warned there will be "consequences" if the United States or its allies remain in Afghanistan past the agreed August 31 deadline, saying "it's a red line".
US President Joe Biden announced a plan earlier in the year to withdraw military forces by the end of August, however there is pressure now to extend the deadline, as thousands of desperate people try to flee the war-ravaged country.
Despite the threats from the fundamentalist group, President Biden is now facing increasing pressure to extend the deadline, with the European Union and the UK saying it would be impossible to get everyone out by then.
The Taliban will 'react' if US forces are not withdrawn
A spokesman for the militant Islamist organisation told Sky News the Taliban will not agree to an extension of the deadline to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
"If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations - the answer is no. Or there would be consequences," said Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar.
A Taliban spokesperson tells Sky's @sallylockwood that there would be 'consequences' if the US chose to stay in the country after the 31 August deadline.
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 23, 2021
"It's a red line. President Biden announced that on August 31 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."
"It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction."
When asked by Afghan-born BBC reporter Yalda Hakim what the "consequences" would be, the spokesperson replied that it would be “up to our leadership how to proceed”.
“They occupied our country. If we occupy your country. What you will say to me? What if I killed your people in your country what you will say?" he said.
“I think all people suffered a lot. Bloodshed. Destruction. Everything. But we say the past is the past. Part of our past history. Now we want to focus on the future.”
Evacuation flights increased
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters on Monday Australia was “part of the discussions” with the United States over possibly extending its withdrawal deadline.
“If they are to be extended, we are absolutely ready to support a continuing operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” she said.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is reportedly set to “personally plead with Joe Biden” to extend the deadline at an emergency G7 meeting.
I will convene G7 leaders on Tuesday for urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan. It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 22, 2021
The Australian government has increased evacuation flights over the weekend, with more than 1,000 people evacuated on 12 flights out of Kabul with assistance from the UK and the US.
According to the White House, the US evacuated approximately 16,000 people in the last 24 hours. Over the weekend, apparently 11,000 people were evacuated, including 18 aircraft from six commercial airlines.
Thousands of Afghans have tried to flee the country after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on August 14.
Taliban seize control of Afghanistan
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in a lightning-fast takeover that took just over a week.
The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days. The Afghanistan government that had run the country for 20 years collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
Now, after two decades of being run by a Western-backed government, Afghanistan is back under Taliban rule
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