Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday that the militant group will stop Afghans from fleeing the country, promising safety to those who aided Western efforts amid fears of Taliban reprisal, writes Forbes.
Mujahid said Afghans would no longer be allowed to travel to the airport in Kabul, and reportedly asked the U.S. stop evacuating citiziens because "we need their talent," per Forbes. "We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave," he reportedly said, per Axios. Mujahid also told those who worked with the U.S. that "we have forgotten everything in the past," suggesting they were safe in Afghanistan, and insisted the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline was not up for negotiation. Since those remarks, President Biden confirmed the U.S. will stick to its end-of-month target.
It's unclear "whether and how" the airport will operate once U.S. troops depart, Axios writes, although the Taliban has said Afghans will "continue to be able to obtain passports and fly out of the country." Mujahid's remarks on Tuesday urged those waiting outside of the airport to return home.
According to Axios, Mujahid also "seemed to confirm" reports that women were turned away from their work in offices and government ministries, but said it was only due to "temporary security concerns" and they would eventually be able to return. Read more at Forbes and Axios.