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Taliban: Pakistan allowing US drones to enter airspace

August 28, 2022

Taliban military leader Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob implored Islamabad not to use its airspace against the movement. A US airstrike in Kabul in July killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

US drone in Afghanistan before US withdrawal, Kandahar Airfield
Afghanistan's de facto rulers have accused Islamabad of allowing the US to use its airspace to access the countryImage: Unbekannt/Zuma Wire/imago images

The Taliban's defense minister on Sunday accused Islamabad of allowing American drones to use Pakistani airspace to access Afghanistan.

"According to our information the drones are entering through Pakistan to Afghanistan, they use Pakistan's airspace," Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob — acting defense minister in the Taliban's internationally unrecognized caretaker cabinet —  told reporters in Kabul.

"We ask Pakistan, don't use your airspace against us," the Taliban military leader insisted.

Yaqoob said that Afghanistan's radar system was destroyed when US forces withdrew from the country in 2021, but intelligence sources suggest that US drones were entering through Pakistan. He called this a "clear violation."

The acting defense minister is the son of Taliban founder Mohammed Omar and is seen as the second most powerful leader of the Islamist movement, which has held control over most of Afghanistan since it captured Kabul in August last year.

Pakistan denies involvement

Authorities in Islamabad have denied any involvement in a US drone strike in Kabul in July that killed Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Taliban said it is investigating the strike and has not found al-Zawahiri's body.

The Afghan Taliban has been mediating talks between Islamabad and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group. The TTP has been responsible for numerous attacks inside Pakistan, including an attack on a school in Peshawar that killed 149, as well as attacks on soldiers and military checkpoints.

In May, negotiations brokered by the Taliban lead to a "permanent-ceasefire" between Pakistan and the TTP.

sdi/kb (dpa, Reuters)

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