- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2021

The Taliban on Friday threatened “death and destruction” against U.S. forces unless all Americans leave Afghanistan by May 1, adding new pressure to President Biden as he weighs whether to honor the looming deadline.

The Taliban’s threats came less than 24 hours after Mr. Biden refused to say during a White House press conference whether he’ll meet the May 1 date, which was established in an agreement that former President Trump struck with the Taliban last year. Mr. Biden said it “will be hard to meet the May 1 deadline,” though he did promise that the U.S. and its 2,500 remaining forces will leave the country eventually. The president said he “can’t picture” American troops still in Afghanistan by next year.

But those murky promises are not enough for the Taliban, which stressed that the U.S. must abide by the terms of last year’s deal — informally known as the Doha agreement — or face a new wave of violence.

“If, God forbid, all foreign troops not withdraw from Afghanistan on the specified date in line with the Doha agreement, undoubtedly it will be considered a violation of the accord by America for which it shall be held liable and which shall also harm its international standing,” the insurgent group said in a statement posted to its Twitter account Friday.

“In such a case, the Islamic Emirate — as a representative of the believing, valiant and Mujahid Afghan nation — will be compelled to defend its religion and homeland and continue its jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate the country,” the statement continued. “All responsibility for the prolongation of war, death and destruction will be on the shoulders of those whom committed this violation.”

Under the terms of the deal it struck with Washington, the Taliban has ceased its direct attacks against American personnel, though it has continued waging war against Afghan security forces. The pact also calls for the Taliban to sever all ties with al Qaeda and guarantee Afghanistan will never again become a safe haven for terrorist groups.

SEE ALSO: Joe Biden ‘has not made a decision’ on U.S. troop withdrawal date from Afghanistan

The agreement also requires direct talks between the Taliban and U.S.-backed government in Kabul, with the end goal being a permanent cease-fire between the two sides.

Virtually all observers believe the Taliban has not lived up to its commitments.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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