The Taliban issued a fresh warning to Turkey against its planned continued military presence in the country and its guarding of the airport in the capital Kabul following the withdrawal of NATO forces.
In what is the Taliban's boldest warning to Ankara yet, it stressed that Turkey's offer to the United States and NATO to maintain the security of the Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul is a violation of the Doha agreement struck last year between the warring parties, which agreed on the NATO withdrawal and the peace plan between the Taliban and the current Afghan government.
Drawing on the "historic, cultural, and religious bonds" that Afghanistan shares with Turkey, the Taliban said that the continuation of the "occupations will arouse emotions of resentment and hostility inside our country towards Turkish officials and will damage bilateral ties."
Calling the Turkish decision "ill-advised, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and against our national interests," the group stressed that it "condemns this reprehensible decision in the strongest terms."
The statement urged the Turkish people and politicians "to raise their voices against this decision because it is neither beneficial for Turkey nor Afghanistan, rather it only creates problems and issues between both Muslim nations."
In the end, it chillingly warned that "if Turkish officials fail to reconsider their decision and continue the occupation of our country, the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] and the Afghan nation – in line with their religious, conscientious and patriotic duty – will take a stand against them as they have stood against the two-decade occupation."
Since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's offer last month and US President Joe Biden's reported agreement with it, the Taliban has already stated its opposition to the presence of Turkish forces in Kabul and urged Ankara not to go ahead with its plans. It led many to speculate on whether the group would direct military attacks against Turkish troops in retaliation.
This latest warning, however, is the first such direct statement threatening potential military action against Turkish forces and seems to confirm those speculations.
With the US set to withdraw the last of its ground forces from Afghanistan by 31 August, the Taliban has made significant gains in recent weeks by capturing at least dozens of key districts and border crossings, now controlling around 80 per cent of the country.
Many fear that once the US and NATO withdrawals are complete, the group will soon after overrun the capital Kabul and overthrow the government.