The Taliban celebrated Tuesday the departure of U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan as “a lesson for other invader,” but sought good relations with the United States and the rest of the global community.
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac, the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, congratulated Afghanistan, saying the departure of U.S.-led forces was a victory “that belongs to us all.” But he also appeared to offer a hint of how the Taliban would govern.
Surrounded on the tarmac by a unit of the group’s elite Badri force, he admonished them to not treat Afghan citizens harshly.
“Treat the Afghan population kindly and nicely,” he told them. “The public deserves this.” He also reminded them that they were the “servants” of the population and should not be heavy-handed with their fellow countrymen.
@Zabehulah_M33 at #Kabulairport Tue morning after the U.S. forces left. He addressed #Taliban’s elite Badri unit, telling them to treat the #Afghan population “kindly” and “nicely” because the public deserves it. “We are their servants,” he said #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/rj5Ryg5V7g
— Ayesha Tanzeem (@atanzeem) August 31, 2021
The Taliban have promised to get the airport up and running for commercial flights as soon as possible. However, some of the airport infrastructure was damaged during the first few days of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, when thousands of Afghans, a in panic over the arrival of the militant group, massed around it and many managed to get inside and onto the tarmac.
Several Afghans died as they tried to hang onto the outside of an American C-17 military cargo plane or climb into the space provided for its wheels.
The last U.S. troops left Afghanistan before the expiration of an August 31 deadline set by U.S. President Joe Biden.
The head of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie said Monday the last U.S. aircraft took off in Kabul just before midnight local time, a minute ahead of the deadline.
The United States and its coalition partners helped more than 123,000 civilians flee Afghanistan, though countless more were left behind.
“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments,” McKenzie said.
VOA White House correspondents Patsy Widakuswara and Anita Powell contributed to this report.