UK govt warns Taliban could shut Kabul airport if US extends troop withdrawal past 31 August
- The Taliban could close Kabul airport if US President Joe Biden extends his August 31 deadline for troop withdrawal.
- That warning came from the UK's defence secretary, as countries scramble to evacuate people.
- The Taliban threatened "consequences" if Biden extended the deadline. He's expected to decide on Tuesday.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The Taliban could force Kabul's airport to close if US President Joe Biden extends his August 31 deadline for troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned.
Biden is expected to decide on Tuesday if he will extend his deadline in order to evacuate more people after the Taliban's takeover.
But Wallace said on Tuesday that, even if Biden extends the deadline, the Taliban could shut the airport and prevent people from leaving.
He told the BBC's Radio 4's "Today" program that the Taliban had a range of options available, "from preventing people getting to the airport all the way through to military activity that could potentially close the airport. That is very difficult for everyone."
"So that's why our focus [is to] get as many people out every hour."
The Taliban previously warned that there would be "consequences" if the US decides to extend the military withdrawal deadline.
Wallace also warned on Tuesday that "not everyone" would be able to get out of Afghanistan by August 31, as did Spain's defence minister.
Wallace also said that he wanted Biden to extend the deadline.
Foreign citizens, Afghans who helped other countries' militaries and fear punishment from the Taliban, and Afghans who fear Taliban rule are among those who want to leave the country.
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