Taliban: We do not want Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan

A Taliban spokesperson said on Aug. 24 that although the militant group “wants good relations with Turkey,” it does not want Turkish troops on Afghan soil. “There is no need for Turkish troops in Afghanistan, we are more than capable of securing the Kabul Airport ourselves,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in his second press conference since the group's takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15.

A Taliban delegation attends a meeting in Moscow in this file photo.

Duvar English

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Aug. 24 that his group would take over the security of the Kabul international airport after Aug. 31 and that there was no need for the planned deployment of Turkish troops there.

“There is no need for Turkish troops in Afghanistan, we are more than capable of securing the Kabul Airport ourselves,” Mujahid was quoted as saying during a press conference by local media. 

“We want good relations with Turkey, but we don't want their soldiers in Afghanistan.”

He also said that the Taliban will accept “no extensions” to the deadline of Aug. 31 which the U.S. administration set for the withdrawal of all American troops.

The Taliban spokesperson said that life is returning to normal in the country but chaos at the airport remains a problem. Many Afghans are desperate to flee the Taliban takeover of the country.

“We will not be extending (August) 31st deadline. They (U.S.) can take all the people who belong to them. We are not going to let Afghans leave,” he said.

Turkey evacuates 1,404 people from Afghanistan

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Aug. 24 that Turkey has so far evacuated 1,404 people from Afghanistan — 1,061 of them Turkish nationals and 343 nationals of “various countries.”

“Because of our (troops’) presence at the airport, many countries, international organizations or NGOs have asked our help in evacuating their personnel,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters. “We have been providing assistance to them together with the United States and Britain.”

Çavuşoğlu said that there were some 4,500 Turkish nationals in Afghanistan but only around 200 are still waiting to be evacuated.

“We have contacted each one of them. ... An important number of them said they did not want to return,” Çavuşoğlu said, explaining that they included people who had businesses or jobs in Afghanistan or were married to Afghans.

“We of course, respect their decision but we have also made the necessary suggestions and warnings,” he said.

Turkey, which has 600 troops in Afghanistan, has offered to keep them in Kabul to guard and operate the airport after the pullout of U.S. forces. 

Despite reports that Turkey dropped plans to secure Kabul’s international airport, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that Turkey is ready to talk with the Taliban about what role, if any, Turkey would play in Afghanistan.

"If there is a knock on our door, we will open it for dialogue," Erdoğan said on Aug. 20.