Taliban rebuffs extending deadline for US troops withdrawal as fighters close in around Panjshir Valley
Reports also indicate the Taliban plans to form a 12-member council to rule Afghanistan
By News Desk - August 24 2021

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid held a news conference on 24 August during which he announced that the Taliban had not agreed to an extension of the 31 August deadline set by the United States to pull all troops out of Afghanistan.

Mujahid said the Taliban wanted all evacuations to end by that date, and that Afghans waiting outside Kabul airport seeking a flight out of the country should return home.

“We guarantee their security,” Mujahid told media in Kabul. He also said that there is no list of people targeted for reprisals, saying “we have forgotten everything in the past,” in reference to a general amnesty declared by the Taliban.

Mujahid also said that the US needs to stop taking Afghan experts abroad, such as engineers and doctors, saying that the nation needs their talent.

The Taliban spokesman also spoke about the developing situation in the Panjshir Valley, the last bastion of the anti-Taliban resistance, where the National Resistance Front (NRF) has set up machine gun nests, mortars and surveillance posts in anticipation of a Taliban assault.

Since last week, the Taliban has been amassing fighters around Panjshir, the last Afghan region not under their control, where the son of renowned anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud said he was hoping for negotiations, but was ready for war.

Mujahid also announced that Taliban forces had already taken control of Deh Salah and Pul-e-Hesar districts in the Baghlan province, next to Panjshir.

This news come on the heels of reports that the Taliban has decided to form a 12-member council to govern Afghanistan, including members of the previous, western-backed administration. The report also indicates that the Taliban does not seek to restore the post of the president or any other single leader in the country.

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