LBC: Caller would move to Afghanistan as Taliban are misrepresented
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“But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen warned: “It’s a red line. If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there will be consequences.”A senior defence minister admitted Kabul will become a “war zone” if Western forces remain in Afghanistan without the Taliban’s consent. The death toll outside Kabul airport continued to rise yesterday, after an Afghan soldier died in a shoot-out with unidentified men.
It comes as British troops continued to care for the many frightened and confused children piling into the airport, many of them desperate for food and water.
US President Joe Biden said discussions were taking place about extending the evacuation deadline, but that “our hope is we will not have to”.
Armed Forces minister James Heappey added the Taliban “gets a vote” on the deadline.
Ahead of today’s emergency G7 summit, he said: “Even though they are the seven most powerful people on the planet they don’t get to take that decision in isolation.
“Even if the political will in London, Washington, Paris, Berlin is for an extension, the Taliban may say no.
“It’s just the reality. We could deny them the vote, we have the military power to just stay there by force.
“But I don’t know that the humanitarian mission we’re on at the moment, which is to evacuate as many people from Kabul as we possibly can, is helped by Kabul becoming a war zone.”
Briefing MPs from Kabul, Sir Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Afghanistan, said trying to hold Kabul’s airport any longer would likely put troops at risk.
He said: “The signalling that we’re seeing from the Taliban, including earlier today, is pretty uncompromising – that they want the operation finished by the end of the month.
“So I think if the US and its allies were to try to push beyond that, then there’s at least a risk there, of us doing so in a much more difficult and less compliant environment.”
The virtual meeting also heard that planning by the British military for the end of the emergency airlift by the RAF had already begun.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “We have discussions on the ground with the Taliban. As the Armed Forces minister said, they do have a say in this and we need to be mindful of that in considering our approach.
“I won’t get into any further discussions on that but that is the other side of this that we do need to bear in mind when considering the best approach.”
The Taliban have agreed not to attack foreign forces before the deadline for their withdrawal.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK had “hours not weeks” to get people out of the country, adding British troops will leave when the Americans do.
Chaotic scenes have erupted outside Kabul airport, with thousands arriving in the hope of escaping and facing gunfire, beatings by the militants and crowds that have trampled many.
The UK has evacuated 1,300 people from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, according to Mr Wallace.
The military evacuation of Afghan and British nationals has so far extracted 7,109 people out of Kabul in total since the mission began. The number of Afghan individuals and their families saved from the Taliban has reached 4,226.
Officials are prioritising around 4,000 British nationals and Afghan allies in the remaining days of the military evacuation.
Children, who are among the biggest victims of the evacuations in temperatures exceeding 95F, have received water and food, distributed by British, American and Turkish soldiers.
Many people desperate to flee the country have been forced to wait outside the airport. The militants said Afghans trying to leave could do so on civilian flights once foreign troops leave.
As the wait goes on, Taliban patrols have continued to roam across the country. British troops and Taliban fighters are now standing just yards from each other at Kabul airport, despite being enemies for nearly 20 years.
Paratroopers were searching the thousands of Afghans desperate to leave while armed Taliban kept watch over the crowds for suspicious activity.
In his statement, Taliban spokesman Dr Shaheen said: “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. There is no need.
“It will create mistrust between us. It will provoke a reaction.
“If we occupy your country, what will you say to me? What if I killed your people in your country, what will you say?”
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