The Taliban warn the United States against flying drones over its “sacred airspace” to avoid “any negative consequences” even though President Biden has said the United States military now relies on operations ” on the horizon ”to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, the Taliban’s Twitter account released a statement accusing the United States of violating “all international rights, laws and United States commitments to the Islamic Emirate of Doha, Qatar, while the airspace sacred Afghanistan is invaded by American drones ”.
“These violations must be rectified and prevented,” said the activist organization.
“We call on all countries, especially the United States, to treat Afghanistan in the light of international rights, laws and commitments, and with consideration of mutual respect and commitments, in order to avoid any negative consequences. ”
The warning came the same day that top U.S. military leaders General Frank McKenzie, General Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified before Congress about the chaotic end of the war in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, McKenzie was asked if the administration had reached agreements with neighboring countries to “provide the basic and overflight requirements necessary to conduct counterterrorism operations on the horizon” in Afghanistan.
Despite the Taliban’s warning, McKenzie assured that the United States had the capacity to carry out the missions.
“As of today, I have the ability to enter Afghanistan and fly missions, it’s a long journey, but I have the ability to do it today. But we don’t have an agreement with a neighboring country, ”he said, adding:“ We are not based in any neighboring country ”.
After the withdrawal of US troops and the evacuation of US citizens and Afghan allies from the besieged nation, Biden announced that the US military would operate “on the horizon” missions to combat terrorism in Afghanistan. These missions require the use of drones.
During the hearing, Representative Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) Highlighted the question of how these missions can fail without intelligence on the ground in neighboring countries or in Afghanistan.
“Now we’re really going to get to the heart of the matter, which is counterterrorism on the horizon. These drones must fly all around Iran, all the way to Pakistan and lose 70 to 80% of their fuel before they even approach a target.
“And we just saw from the failed attack – the botched attack – that you must have multiple intelligence confirming what this drone operator is seeing,” he said, referring to the drone attack on retaliation on August 29 that killed 10 civilians, many of whom were children, instead of ISIS-K members.
“I know this drone operator would appreciate [somebody] on the ground saying, ‘No, he’s a civilian, don’t pull that trigger,’ ”Waltz added.
On Friday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby assured that the United States had “all the authorities necessary to carry out counterterrorism operations on the horizon.”
“Not to mention the specific rules of engagement surrounding air strikes, there is currently no obligation to clear the airspace with the Taliban,” he said. “And we don’t expect any future counterterrorism strikes on the horizon to depend on such authorization.”
It is not known whether the United States has continued drone surveillance or airstrikes in Afghanistan in recent weeks.