The Afghan Taliban has warned neighboring countries against allowing the United States to operate military bases on their soil, following media reports alleging that Pakistan had struck a deal with Washington.
The militant group issued the warning in a statement on May 26 amid speculation that the Pentagon is eying new bases in the region to use against the insurgents after the planned pullout of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 11.
Sonny Leggett, the U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said that speculations the United States is seeking to set up military bases in Pakistan are “false.”
Addressing the Pakistani Senate on May 25, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan “will never allow any American base on its soil."
In its statement, the Taliban urged “neighboring countries not to allow anyone to do so."
It did not name any country.
"If such a step is taken again, it will be a great and historic mistake and disgrace," the insurgents said, adding that they would "not remain silent in the face of such heinous and provocative acts.”
The planned withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan after two decades has raised concerns over the fate of the government in Kabul in the face of continued violence by Taliban militants that control large swaths of the country.
On May 26, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said the army's commando forces had released 62 people from a Taliban prison in the northern province of Baghlan.
The captives, who included 26 civilians and 36 members of Afghan security forces, were released in an overnight operation in the Baghlan-e Markazi district, the ministry said, adding that four Taliban guards were killed during the operation.
The statement comes a day after officials said 41 people were released from a Taliban prison in the country's western province of Herat.
The Taliban has not commented on the operations in Baghlan and Herat.