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Taliban warns there will be ‘consequences’ if Biden delays withdrawal of US troops

Foreign troops staying in Afghanistan beyond the current deadline of 31 August would be a “red line” and would “provoke a reaction” from the Taliban, a spokesperson for the group has said.

The warning comes as Boris Johnson prepares to use an emergency meeting of G7 world leaders on Tuesday to ask US president Joe Biden to keep American forces in Afghanistan beyond this time in order to allow evacuation flights to continue.

But with Mr Biden having said over the weekend that it is “our hope” to withdraw US troops by next Tuesday, and UK ministers having confirmed that British forces will leave at the same time as their American counterparts, defence secretary Ben Wallace warned on Monday that evacuation efforts “are really down to hours now, not weeks”.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the US was concerned by the threat of an Isis attack at Kabul airport. “The threat is real, it is acute, it is persistent and it is something that we are focused on with every tool in our arsenal,” he said.


Afghanistan flag to be displayed at Paralympics as a ‘sign of solidarity’

The Afghanistan flag will be displayed in Tuesday’s opening ceremony of the Paralympics as “a sign of solidarity” – even though the country’s athletes were not able to get to Tokyo to compete.

Andrew Parsons, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, said a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would carry the flag in the National Stadium during the opening ceremony.

Para-taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and discus thrower Hossain Rasouli were both unable to reach Japan after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban just over a week ago.

Andy Gregory23 August 2021 16:15


US confirms death of Afghan soldier outside Kabul airport

The US military has confirmed that an Afghan soldier died in gunfire from a “hostile actor” outside Kabul airport.

In a statement released on Monday, it said: “The incident appeared to begin when an unknown hostile actor fired upon Afghan security forces involved in monitoring access to the gate. The Afghans returned fire, and in keeping with their right of self-defense, so too did U.S. and coalition troops.

“One member of the Afghan forces was killed by the hostile actor; several Afghans were wounded during the exchange. The wounded are being treated at an airfield hospital and are reported to be in stable condition.”

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 16:09


Russia will sell weapons to allies near Afghanistan at low price

Russia will sell weapons and military hardware to its Central Asian allies at a low cost, following the fall of Afghanistan, the countries deputy prime minister told the RIA news agency.

This comment follows an virtual meeting between Moscow and countries in the region to discuss security concerns after the Taliban’s takeover.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 15:58


G7 leaders should donate $8bn to Afghan education, says Brown

G7 leaders should agree to donate $8 billion towards Afghan education over the next two decades, the former Labour leader Gordon Brown has said.

This figure matches the total given by these countries over the past 20 years.

The former prime minister said aid should be distributed in line with an agreement between Unicef and the Taliban last year to form more than 3,000 informal schools in Afghanistan.

“At the same time, we should state unequivocally that aid, including the donor pledges already made for 2021-2024, will be withdrawn if the rights of girls are not upheld,” he added.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 15:38


Hungary evacuates 173 people from Afghanistan

Hungary has evacuated 173 people from Afghanistan, including some passengers requested by the US and Austria, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Peter Szijjarto confirmed that a Wizz Air flight travelled from Uzbekistan and landed in Budapest on Monday.

In return for the favour, he called on American troops to allow Hungary to evacuate those it wanted from Kabul.

“We have brought out a large part of passengers at American and Austrian request…In exchange we expect our allies, including the Americans, not to hinder people whom we want to evacuate from getting into Kabul airport,” he said.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 15:19


US sees ‘acute’ Isis threat at Kabul airport, says Biden aide

The threat of an Isis attack at Kabul airport is “acute”, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned

“The threat is real, it is acute, it is persistent and it is something that we are focused on with every tool in our arsenal,” Mr Sullivan told CNN on Sunday. “We are working hard with our intelligence community to try to isolate and determine where an attack might come from.”

Evacuations from Kabul airport have now entered their second week.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 15:00


Sanctions against Taliban would ‘deepen humanitarian catastrophe’, says Stewart

Former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart has hit out at the idea of imposing sanctions on the Taliban, saying such a move would likely “inflict pain on innocent Afghan communities”.

Mr Stewart, who is an expert on Afghanistan, said the policy would “deepen the humanitarian catastrophe” already engulfing the country and would not greatly affect the Taliban.

His comments come after reports suggest that the UK government wants other G7 countries to pursue sanctions.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 14:40


Biden is ‘likely’ to extend evacuations, says former Obama official

There is a “good chance” Joe Biden will extend evacuations from Kabul airport beyond the end of August, a former government official has said.

James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state under the Obama administration, told BBC Radio 4 that an extension was a strong possibility.

“I think that he [Mr Biden] recognises of the many challenges that have come about of the way this evacuation has been handled, failure to consult with the allies has been a big problem and I think the president probably feels a significant obligation now to try and accommodate the concerns from the British and others to facilitate getting people out,” he said.

Mr Steinberg added that the Taliban are unlikely to be given a chance to veto this delay.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 14:20


Donations in Hertfordshire a ‘tremendous act of love’, says Rabbi

A synagogue in Hertfordshire has been inundated with donations for Afghan families who have recently arrived in the area.

Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, of the Bushey United Synagogue, said his Facebook request for support was met with a “tremendous act of love” from the local community.

“It went crazy. People copied the (Facebook) message. They forwarded it around and by the time Sunday arrived we had around may 3,000 bags (of items) that had been brought to help out.”

“It has been a tremendous act of love and completely run by volunteers who all just wanted to help. They are not just Jewish. The message ended up going far and wide and everyone just wanted to make a difference,” he added.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 13:58


Afghans outside of Kabul face ‘challenges’, says No 10

Afghans not living in Kabul who wish to escape Taliban rule face “challenges”, Downing Street has said.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson told reporters that the first phase of the UK’s operation was to evacuate British nationals and those eligible under the first wave of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) initiative.

They explained that resettlement would then continue in the months and years ahead, like it did under a previous scheme for Syrians.

“Now I appreciate that does, again … it presents challenges for those wishing to leave Afghanistan who might not be based in Kabul, who might have to get to neighbouring countries, for example,” they said, adding that it would extremely difficult for them to get to the capital for air evacuations.

Rory Sullivan23 August 2021 13:40


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