Taliban could start mortaring Kabul Airport says Ben Wallace
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Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has warned the Taliban fighters may begin firing mortars at UK troops stations at Kabul Airport if the withdrawal of western forces is delayed. US, British, and NATO troops are due to leave Afghanistan on August 31 amid a desperate scramble to evacuate vulnerable refugees. Mr Wallace told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that the Taliban had a range of “tools” available to them including “military action.”
Mr Wallace told LBC: “I think, with the Taliban themselves, they have a range of tools, including military action.
“They have the ability to stop the checkpoints, to stop flows to airports, they have the ability to, effectively, prevent people getting out and then they, obviously, have the military means to disrupt the airport.
“If you start mortaring an airport, for example, the runway closes and then you all end up going nowhere.
“I absolutely don’t take that as a clever play on words, using the word ‘consequences’.”
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He continued: “This is the Taliban we’re talking about and I think what they’re trying to say is, ‘you agreed on a 31st deadline originally’ – I think August 31st was a selected deadline originally by the United States – and they expect us to stick to it.
“They may change their mind and we’ll see what the G7 does today.”
“Obviously, all military personnel have the right of self-defence to protect themselves and protect civilians immediately near them.
“I suspect that it will be a mixture of- well I can’t speculate what we would do but we certainly have plans, if we’re attacked, to defend ourselves.
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Mr Wallace added: “I don’t think anyone wants this to turn into a shooting war in the last few days.
“I don’t think they want a shooting war either.
“They want us out as quickly as possible and we want to get out with as many people as possible.”
It comes after Taliban leaders threatened the US and UK with “consequences” if the withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan is delayed.
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“It’s a red line,” Taliban spokesperson Dr Suhail Shaheen told Sky News.
“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 US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no.
“Or there would be consequences, it will create mistrust between us if they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”
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