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World

Taliban don't want fighting inside Afghan cities: senior leader

  • Turkey's decision to provide security to Kabul airport when US-led forces leave the country 'reprehensible', says separate statement
13 Jul, 2021

KABUL: The Taliban do not want to engage in fighting inside Afghanistan's cities, a senior insurgent leader said Tuesday, as Taliban also warned Turkey against extending its troop presence after US forces complete their withdrawal.

"Now that the fighting from mountains and deserts has reached the doors of the cities, Mujahiddin don't want fighting inside the city," Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a message tweeted by a Taliban spokesman.

"It is better... to use any possible channel to get in touch with our invitation and guidance commission, reach a logical agreement to prevent their cities from getting damaged," said Muttaqi, head of a commission that oversees people surrendering to the group.

Taliban say they control 85pc of Afghanistan

In a separate statement, they said Turkey's decision to provide security to Kabul airport when US-led forces leave the country was "reprehensible".

"The decision... is ill-advised, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and against our national interests," the group said, days after Turkey agreed with Washington to provide security to protect Kabul airport.

As foreign forces wind up their withdrawal -- due to be completed by August 31 -- the situation on the ground is changing rapidly.

The top US general in Afghanistan relinquished his command Monday at a ceremony in the capital, the latest symbolic gesture bringing America's longest war nearer to an end.

Afghanistan installs anti-missile system at Kabul airport

The pace of the pullout -- and multiple offensives launched by the Taliban -- have raised fears that Afghanistan's security forces could be swiftly overwhelmed, particularly without vital US air support.

Around 650 American service members are expected to remain in Kabul, guarding Washington's sprawling diplomatic compound.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he had agreed with the United States on the "scope" of how to secure Kabul airport.

Peace talks between the insurgents and the government supposedly taking place in Doha have largely fizzled out, and the Taliban now appear set on a complete military victory.

Imran, Erdogan discuss troop pullout from Afghanistan

But claims by the hardline group to control 85 percent of the country are impossible to verify independently -- and strongly disputed by the government.

Last week in Moscow, a visiting Taliban delegation said the group now controls more than half the country's near-400 districts -- a claim steadfastly rejected by security forces spokesman Ajmal Omar Shinwari.

Still, the situation has alarmed foreign nations, and on Sunday India became the latest country to evacuate some of its diplomats.

On Monday, Russia announced it was relocating some diplomats to Uzbekistan, while China also evacuated 210 nationals from Afghanistan.

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