Taliban Warns Turkey of Consequences for Securing Kabul Airport

Kabul military airport on July 7. (Photographer: Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

Taliban Warns Turkey of Consequences for Securing Kabul Airport

The Taliban warned Turkey of serious consequences over its decision to take over the security of Kabul’s airport after the full withdrawal of U.S. troops in less than two months.

The move is “ill-advised, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and against our national interests,” the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said Tuesday in a statement, urging Turkey to reverse the decision.

Turkey’s role has not been finalized, with talks between Ankara and Washington yet to result in a detailed road map, which Turkish officials insist must spell out American air support in case of a Taliban attack on the airport. Throwing a protective ring around the airport also poses additional challenges, such as providing security for embassies and hospitals.

The security of all the country’s airports is the “sole responsibility of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, however any assistance offered by friendly nations is important,” Mohammad Amiri, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said in a message on July 10.

The development comes two days after the Afghan government confirmed it had installed its first air defense system in decades at Hamid Karzai International Airport -- the country’s largest -- as Taliban militants continued to make sweeping advances across the country, stoking fears the group could try a wholesale takeover. For now, authorities in Kabul still control all of the 34 provincial capitals.

The air defense system will “repel rocket and missile attacks on Kabul,” said Fawad Aman, a deputy spokesman for the country’s Ministry of Defense Affairs. A plan is underway to deploy and install similar systems across other provinces, Aman said, without providing details on the type of weapon or which country had provided it.

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