Taliban sends warning to Turkey not to extend troop presence in Afghanistan

Growing concerns over insurgent advances as US troops leave the country

epa09136972 Afghan security officials check people at a roadside checkpoint in Helmand, Afghanistan, 15 April 2021. The United States will began removing its remaining troops from Afghanistan on 01 May and the withdrawal is to be complete by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that spurred the invasion, US President Joe Biden said on 14 April 2021.  EPA/WATAN YAR
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The Taliban on Tuesday advised Turkey not to extend its troop presence in Afghanistan when US-led Nato forces leave the country and called plans to do so “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 promised to provide troops to protect Kabul airport when allied forces leave next month.

Emboldened by the withdrawal of US and Nato troops, the Taliban launched major offensives into new territory in northern and western provinces. Afghan forces have kept control of provincial capitals but the insurgents have made gains in surrounding districts.

As a result, Afghans in villages and towns are waking up to find themselves under Taliban rule and fearing for the future. Many of those who worked with Nato forces in Afghanistan, interpreters ,and messengers now also worry about their safety.

A Taliban official said last week that the insurgents had seized 85 per cent of territory in Afghanistan.

This claim was dismissed by experts, even as government officials expressed concern about the insurgents' gains in border areas.

“We control 250 of the 398 districts – that is, 85 per cent of the Afghan soil under our control,” Shahabuddin Delawar, one of a three-member Taliban delegation, told reporters in Moscow after talks with Russian officials.

In the last 15 days, Taliban advances have driven more than 5,600 families from their homes in northern Afghanistan – a traditional stronghold of US-allied warlords – the government’s Refugee and Repatriations Ministry said.

Updated: July 13, 2021, 10:17 AM