Afghanistan: Exit deadline extension ‘unlikely’ as it gets ‘more dangerous’
It’s “unlikely” the 31 August deadline to remove troops from Afghanistan will be extended, according to defence secretary Ben Wallace, who added it is getting “more and more dangerous.”
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “As we get closer it’s correct to say the security risk goes up, it gets more and more dangerous.
“Add-on groups and other terrorist groups like ISIS would like to be seen taking credit, would like to be seen chasing the West out of Afghanistan – that will feed their narrative and ambitions.
“The Taliban control the outer ring outside the airport, which makes it harder for ISIS to get through and they’re certainly no friends of the Taliban.
“But we’re very vulnerable should a terrorist choose to do something.”
PM Boris Johnson will join G7 leaders at an online summit today where he is expected to call on President Joe Biden to extend the deadline date for pulling US troops out of Afghanistan.
We will continue to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and the gains made in Afghanistan over the last two decades.
The Taliban will be judged by their deeds and not their words.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 24, 2021
The Taliban told Sky News the 31 August deadline was a “red line” and there would be “consequences” if that date was extended.
On whether Mr Biden will extend that deadline, Mr Wallace said: “I think it’s unlikely, not only because of what the Taliban has said but also the public statement from President Biden.
“It’s worth us all trying, and we will.”
Mr Wallace has said the UK’s evacuation effort is “down to hours not weeks.” Adding that over the past 24 hours the UK has evacuated more than 2,000 people – an extra 700 people compared with the previous day.
The UK has changed its tactics for getting out of Afghanistan entirely, so the evacuation can be quicker.
“Every hour we can squash the military evacuation is an hour we can use to carry out the human evacuation,” he added.
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