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US imposes new flight bans over Afghanistan

Passengers enter the departures terminal of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 17, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan due to the risk “posed by militant activity” across the country.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that US airlines and other US operators were banned from the Kabul Flight Information Region. Citing the risk “posed by extremist/militant activity,” the FAA said the restrictions did not apply to US military operations.

Flights operating in and out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital, Kabul, are not included in the ban, either.

The restrictions were announced days after the US military carried out airstrikes against Taliban positions in the country even as it is withdrawing from Afghanistan. The Taliban said the airstrikes amounted to “a clear violation of the signed agreement that will have consequences.”

The US has withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan under a deal with the militants that was reached last year.

The Taliban, who have intensified attacks across Afghanistan, now control about 212 of the country’s 419 district centers, according to the US military. The US is also blamed for a surge in Taliban violence, as it has failed to stabilize the security situation in Afghanistan after two decades of war and occupation.

US responsible for deteriorating Afghan security situation: China

Meanwhile, China has called on the US to take responsibility for “the deteriorating security situation in the country.”

“What needs to be emphasized is that the United States suddenly announced the complete withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a statement. “This is the root cause of the deteriorating security situation in the country.”

He said that Washington “should shoulder its due responsibilities, [and] take concrete actions to ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan.”

Zhao said the US needed to “prevent terrorist forces from taking the opportunity to grow bigger, and maintain the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.”

A new report by the United Nations (UN) said that nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians lost their lives in clashes between Taliban militants and government forces in the month of May and June alone. The causalities, a new high in 12 years, marked a 47-percent increase compared to the same period last year.

The Taliban, however, rejected the report, describing it as biased and “far from reality.” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that over the past six months, the militants had not “deliberately targeted or carried out attacks that could have resulted in civilian casualties, at any place.”

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