Taliban spokesperson on Afghans leaving: ‘We are not even happy about it’
A Taliban spokesman on Tuesday warned Afghan citizens against leaving the country amid U.S. plans to withdraw all troops from the war-torn country.
“The Afghans leaving, we are not going to allow that, and we are not even happy about it,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said during a press conference, according to CNN.
He said the doctors and academics “should not leave this country. They should work in their own specialists.”
“They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries,” he added.
The comments from Mujahid come as the Biden administration is ramping up efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies while the security situation deteriorates.
The Taliban, however, are now saying that while it is fine for the U.S. military to pull Americans from the region, they will not allow an exodus of Afghan citizens.
“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave,” Mujahid said, according to CNBC.
He also doubled down on the Taliban’s previous statement that they will not allow President Biden to extend a self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops.
Biden had been considering pushing back the deadline for evacuation purposes but announced Tuesday that the timetable would remain as is.
“[The Americans] have the opportunity. They have all the resources. They can take all the people that belong to them. But we are not going to allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline,” Mujahid said, according to CNBC.
He said evacuations that occur after the Aug. 31 deadline would be a “violation” of the administration’s promise to complete its withdrawal mission before September.
Mujahid added that Afghan citizens are not permitted to make their way to the airport.
“The way to the airport has been closed now. Afghans are not allowed to go there now. Foreigners are allowed to go, but we have stopped Afghan nationals to go because the crowd is more. There is danger that people will lose their lives. There might be a stampede,” Mujahid said.
He also said the U.S. should not encourage Afghans to leave, according to The Washington Post.
The U.S. evacuated roughly 21,600 people from Afghanistan between early Monday and early Tuesday, according to a White House official, bringing the total number of individuals pulled from the country since Aug. 14 to approximately 58,700.