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Taliban say they will attack US forces after end of withdrawal deadline

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photograph taken on April 29, 2021 an Afghan national flag flutters on a mast at the Kandahar fire department in a US military base in Kandahar. (Photo by AFP)

The Taliban forces in Afghanistan have issued a warning of future attacks on US troops occupying the country, while the commander of foreign forces in the country has said they would respond forcefully.

Under a February 2020 peace deal between representatives of former US President Donald Trump and the Taliban forces, all foreign troops were to withdraw from the country by May 1.

The Taliban warned that it would resume attacks on US forces if the deadline is missed.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted on Saturday that the passing deadline meant “this violation in principle has opened the way for (Taliban fighters) to take every counter-action it deems appropriate against the occupying forces.”

But he added that fighters were waiting on the decision of Taliban leadership.

The Taliban has largely stooped its attacks against foreign troops in the country since the peace deal was signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year.

Under the deal, all foreign troops were expected to leave Afghan soil by May in exchange for the Taliban to halt their attacks on American forces.

On the eve of the agreed deadline, envoys from Russia, China and Pakistan joined representatives from the US and Taliban in addition to Afghan government negotiators in the Qatari capital. The Taliban said the ongoing peace process was discussed in the meeting.

In other news, the commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan warned the Taliban against attacking foreign troops still present in the country after the passing of a May 1 deadline.

US Army General Scott Miller’s comments followed what a US forces spokesman described as “ineffective indirect fire” at an airfield in Kandahar that had caused no injuries or damage.

In a video posted to Twitter by the spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan following Saturday’s incident, General Miller said it would be a mistake to move towards attacking foreign troops.

“Make no mistake, we have the military means to respond forcefully to any type of attacks against the coalition and the military means to support the (Afghan) security forces,” he said.

Experts warned that the risk of Taliban attacks against foreign troops, despite being "unlikely", should not be taken lightly.

 “We can’t rule out attacks,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. “That said, the Taliban is less likely to attack foreign forces now that it knows there is a specific date when they will be leaving.”

The military withdrawal of about 2,500 American soldiers and around 7,000 allied troops is scheduled to be completed by September 11.

The US along with its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the guise of fighting terrorism and dismantling the Taliban.

The invasion — which has turned into the longest war in US history — removed the Taliban from power, but the militant group has never stopped its attacks, citing the foreign military presence as one of the main reasons behind its continued militancy.

Despite halting their attacks on foreign forces, Taliban attacks against Afghan military personnel and civilians have escalated in recent weeks, with more than a hundred Afghan security forces personnel killed.

On Friday, a huge blast in eastern Logar killed dozens as they broke their fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

The Afghan government vowed to take hard revenge from Taliban after a powerful vehicle-borne bomb went off in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Logar on Friday.

In related news, the acting minister of defense, Gen. Yasin Zia, confirmed on Saturday that the US and NATO forces had started their exit from the country.

“The withdrawal of foreign forces has practically started,” he said. “They will hand over the areas where their logistics issues have been addressed will be handed (to Afghan forces) by the end of this week,” Zia said.

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