Thu 26 August 2021:
Despite the massive explosions outside Kabul’s main airport on Thursday, the Taliban* has said it has no intention to extend the US’ withdrawal deadline past August 31, the date agreed upon for the US-led 20-year occupation war to end.
An official with the Taliban told the New York Post they were “doing everything possible” to prevent a terrorist attack in Kabul, just hours before two deadly blasts rocked the Afghan capital on Thursday afternoon.
“We have received reports that malicious elements are planning terror attacks against civilians but are actively doing everything possible to prevent any such attacks from occurring,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, who heads the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, told the New York Post on Thursday morning.
The US had also previously warned that Daesh-K*, an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan hostile to both the US and the Taliban, posed an “acute” and “persistent” threat to the US troops stationed at Hamid Karzai International Airport in northern Kabul, and to the crowds of people outside waiting to get into the airport.
Earlier this week, Taliban forces began directing people to stay away from the airport gates unless they are already approved to fly out, but were reportedly only allowing foreigners to leave, according to a Taliban source. The US, UK, and other nations with citizens in the country have scrambled to get their people the necessary information to get to the airport and leave before the August 31 deadline for NATO forces’ final withdrawal from the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that over the previous nine days, more than 82,000 people had been airlifted out of Kabul to other countries, the vast majority of them Afghans.
“Everyone with proper documentation will be able to travel in and out of the country,” Balkhi told the Post. “Everyone, including Afghans with proper documentation, is able to leave. However, we believe they should stay and serve their own homeland by providing their expertise and skills.”