The Taliban said Monday in Tehran that it will continue its “fight and jihad” if foreign troops do not withdraw from Afghanistan by May 2021 as agreed with the US.
A delegation from the movement headed by its co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Iran’s capital last week at the invitation of the foreign ministry and met with Tehran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday.
“The staying on of troops beyond 14 months, whether American or NATO troops, means the continuation of Afghanistan’s occupation,” Suhail Shaheen, a member of the movement’s negotiating team, told reporters at a press conference.
Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in Qatar in February last year to begin withdrawing its troops in return for security guarantees from the militants and a commitment to kickstart peace talks with the Afghan government.
“We have fought occupation for 20 years. Therefore, in that case, we are forced to continue our fight and jihad,” Shaheen added.
The United States has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, down from close to 13,000 a year ago.