Afghanistan live news: US troops may stay past 31 August, says Biden; Taliban official rules out democracy
‘If there’s American citizens left [after 31 August], we’re gonna stay till we get them all out,’ says Biden; ‘There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country,’ says Taliban official
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Waheedullah Hashimi, a spokesperson for the Taliban, told Reuters that the country was likely to be governed by a ruling Taliban council, while the Islamist militant movement’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, was expected to remain in overall charge, in a role akin to the president.
The power structure that Hashimi outlined would bear similarities to how Afghanistan was run the last time the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001. Then, supreme leader Mullah Omar remained in the shadows and left the day-to-day running of the country to a council.
Up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban took full control of the nation last weekend, AP reports.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said earlier Wednesday that the US military does not have the forces and firepower in Afghanistan to expand its current mission from securing the Kabul airport to collecting Americans and at-risk Afghans elsewhere in the capital and escorting them for evacuation.
The question of whether those seeking to leave the country before Biden’s deadline should be rescued and brought to the airport has arisen amid reports that Taliban checkpoints have stopped some designated evacuees.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin said. “And where do you take that? How far do you extend into Kabul, and how long does it take to flow those forces in to be able to do that?”