Kabul on high alert amid 'deadline' for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
Kabul security was ramped up on Saturday as the city braced for reaction from the insurgent Taliban as U.S. troops still present under President Joe Biden’s orders, beyond the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in 2020 with the Trump administration, Trend reports citing Reuters.
An increased military presence and security at checkpoints were visible in the Afghan capital, and a security source said the city had been placed on “high alert”. Military patrols and security were being increased in main cities around the country, the source said.
Under the Trump administration’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban, foreign forces were to withdraw from the country by May 1 while the Taliban held off on attacking foreign troops and bases. But President Biden announced last month after reviewing the situation that forces would stay in the country for months beyond May, withdrawing by Sept. 11.
Violence against Afghans has escalated starkly in recent weeks, with more than a hundred Afghan security force personnel killed. On the eve of the previously agreed withdrawal deadline, a huge blast in eastern Logar killed dozens as they broke their fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. It was not clear who was behind the attack.
The Taliban responded to the Biden administration’s move with fiery rhetoric and threatened consequences, boycotting a crucial conference in Turkey scheduled for last month that had been planned to help jumpstart stalling Afghan peace talks in Doha.
Since then contacts have been maintained, official and Taliban sources say, in an effort to try to get the Taliban back to negotiating table and agree to the extended foreign troop presence.
As of Saturday it was unclear whether concrete progress had been made and there had been no announcement on an extension.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter 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.”