President Biden reportedly has been informed by the U.S. military that he must decide by Tuesday, August 24, whether to extend the evacuation of the nearly 6,000 troops left in Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline.
“If the President agrees, the military anticipates ‘a few more days’ of trying to evacuate as many people as possible before the drawdown of US forces begins, possibly at the end of this week,” CNN reported.
Biden is scheduled to join a virtual meeting of G-7 leaders on Tuesday. Asked what his response would be if the other leaders urge him to extend the deadline, Biden answered, “We’ll see what we can do.”
On Tuesday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News it was “unlikely” the August 31 deadline would be extended, saying, “As we get closer it’s correct to say the security risk goes up, it gets more and more dangerous. Add-on groups and other terrorist groups like ISIS would like to be seen taking credit, would like to be seen chasing the West out of Afghanistan — that will feed their narrative and ambitions.”
“The Taliban control the outer ring outside the airport, which makes it harder for ISIS to get through and they’re certainly no friends of the Taliban. But we’re very vulnerable should a terrorist choose to do something,” he added.
After President Biden told reporters on Sunday that he might consider extending the August 31 deadline of withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban issued a warning to the United States, saying August 31 is a “red line” and if the deadline is extended, “there would be consequences” and it would “provoke a reaction.”
Biden told reporters on Sunday that he was considering whether to extend the U.S. military’s stay in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31, saying, “There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending. Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions, I suspect, on how far along we are in the process.”
Biden claimed, “We discussed a lot with the Taliban. They’ve been cooperative in extending some of the perimeter,” adding, “So far the Taliban has not taken action against U.S. forces. So far they have, by and large, followed through on what they said in terms of Americans to pass through, and the like. And I’m sure they don’t control all of their forces. It’s a rag tag force.”
Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen threatened, “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that. … If the U.S. or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations — the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” in an interview with Sky News.
Shaheen added, “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction.”
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