Taliban warn all foreign troops must leave by September deadline

While capturing Kabul is “not Taliban policy”, any foreign troops left in Afghanistan after NATO’s September withdrawal deadline will be at risk as occupiers, the Taliban told the BBC.

This comes amid reports that as many as 1,000 US troops could stay on in Afghanistan to protect the American Embassy and Kabul’s international airport.

Speaking to the BBC, Taliban spokesman in Doha, Qatar, Suhail Shaheen said no foreign forces – including military contractors – should remain in the city after the withdrawal was complete.

“If they leave behind their forces against the Doha agreement then in that case it will be the decision of our leadership how we proceed,” Shaheen told the BBC.

“We would react and the final decision is with our leadership,” he added.

He also said diplomats, NGOs and other foreign civilians would not be targeted by the Taliban, adding no ongoing protection force for them was needed.

“We are against the foreign military forces, not diplomats, NGOs and workers and NGOs functioning and embassies functioning – that is something our people need. We will not pose any threat to them,” he said.

Shaheen also described last week’s withdrawal from Bagram Airfield – once the largest US military base in Afghanistan – as a “historic moment”, BBC reported.

Shaheen meanwhile denied that the militant group had played any part in the recent uptick in violence.

He insisted that many districts had fallen to the Taliban through mediation after Afghan soldiers refused to fight.

Shaheen also said elections had so far not been raised in negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.