The Taliban warned on Monday there would be “consequences” if the United States and its allies extend the presence of troops in Afghanistan beyond next week, as chaos continued to overwhelm Kabul airport.
The rapid fall of the country to the hardliners last weekend shocked Western nations, coming just two weeks before an August 31 deadline for all troops to fully withdraw from the country.
Instead, thousands of soldiers have poured back in to manage the frantic airlifting of foreigners and Afghans — many who fear reprisals for working with Western nations — out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations — the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Monday.
Staying beyond the agreed deadline would be “extending occupation”, he added.
The rush to leave Kabul has sparked harrowing scenes and killed at least eight people, some crushed to death while at least one person died after falling from a moving plane.
One Afghan was killed and three others were injured in a dawn firefight on Monday that according to the German military erupted between Afghan guards and unknown assailants.
German and American troops “participated in further exchange of fire”, the German army said in a statement.
The Taliban, infamous for an ultra-strict interpretation of sharia law during their initial 1996-2001 rule, have repeatedly vowed a softer version this time.
The Taliban’s victory ended two decades of war, as they took advantage of US President Joe Biden’s decision to exit the country and end America’s longest war.
Biden has insisted he wants to end the US military presence and the airlifts by August 31.
But with the European Union and Britain saying it would be impossible to get everyone out by then, Biden is under pressure to extend the deadline.
Speaking at the White House on Sunday, Biden said talks were under way to explore the possibility of extending the deadline.
He also acknowledged the tragic scenes at the airport, which have also included babies and children being passed to soldiers over razor-wire fences and men clinging to the outside of departing planes.
But he said they were part of the cost of departure.
“There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see,” he said.