The Taliban, in a strong reaction to the proposed lengthening of international troops stay in Afghanistan beyond May deadline, said that they will continue “defending the country” if foreign forces prolonged their stay.
Afghan news channel Tolo News reported that the Taliban were reacting to the statements by four senior NATO officials about the delay in departure of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The Taliban also reacted to a joint statement by the European Union and other Afghan allies, including the United States, calling for an end of violence, especially targeted attacks. The group said that it will continue defending “the values, the soil, the country and their rights” if the US-Taliban deal is not implemented.
“If someone ignores the Doha agreement and seeks excuses to continue the war and extend the occupation, then the mujahid nation of Afghanistan can courageously defend the values, the soil, the country and their rights same as they have before, as proven in history,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Reacting to the report, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “No decision has been made. NATO defense ministers will address Afghanistan at their meeting on February 17-18.”
“NATO fully supports the Afghanistan peace process, in order to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists that would attack our homelands,” she said.
“We continue to call on all sides to seize this historic opportunity for peace. The Taliban must respect their commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence, and to engage in meaningful negotiations. Taliban violence continues to undermine the peace process, and it must end,” she added.
Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said the international community and our strategic partners are committed to continuing their support to the Afghan forces.
The NATO spokesperson said that the mission of the organisation remains unchanged.
“We continue to support the Afghan security forces in their fight against terrorism and to secure their country. Currently, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission includes around 10,000 troops, a large majority of whom are non-US. No NATO ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, but we have been clear that our presence remains conditions-based. Allies continue to assess the overall situation, and to consult on the way forward,” the spokesperson said.
“I think that their presence will continue war and the continuation of the war is neither in favour of the US nor in favour of any other side. Peace is required now,” said Mawlawi Abdul Salam Zaeef, an ambassador during the Taliban regime.
“I am in favour of negotiations and in favour of the international community’s support from a transparent process for settlement,” said Mohammad Mohaqiq, an adviser for President Ghani on security.
The Biden administration has said that it is reviewing the US-Taliban agreement, mainly the Taliban’s commitments to the Doha agreement.
The Taliban has had two trips over the last week to Iran and Russia where they met senior officials.