Turkish soldiers deployed in Afghanistan will not assume any combat duty other than self-defense, Defense Ministry spokeswoman Pinar Kara said on Thursday.
“The Turkish armed forces have been stationed in Afghanistan for 20 years, and for the past six years, they have been protecting and running the international airport in Kabul. We have stated our readiness to continue this mission after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan … As before, the Turkish military will not take part in combat operations other than self-defense,” Kara told reporters.
Turkey has offered to manage and guard the Kabul airport after NATO troops leave but asked for financial and logistical backing. Turkey and the United States have been discussing the arrangement, but no final decision has been reached yet.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan said the country’s armed forces would be in charge of ensuring airport security.
Ankara continues its negotiations with NATO member states and other countries strictly with regards to its Kabul airport mission, the military official added.
Kara further noted that the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan contributes to the growing number of migrants from Iran to Turkey.
“To prevent the influx of illegal migrants … additional units of the Turkish Armed Forces have been deployed. Measures are being taken to prevent violations at the border,” the spokeswoman said.
Turkey is a transit hub for Afghan and Pakistani migrants, who illegally cross into the country from Iran to seek further refuge in Europe. The situation has deteriorated after the Taliban intensified their offensive in Afghanistan following foreign troops’ withdrawal from the country.
Earlier, the Taliban said they will not let any foreign forces in Afghanistan under any pretext, Zabiullah Mujahid, the movement’s spokesman told Sputnik commenting on reports that Turkey had decided to send Syrian opposition forces to Afghanistan to protect Kabul airport.
“We have already rejected the position of Turkey and stated that after the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, we will not let other foreign forces to remain in this country under any pretext. We are against Turkey’s decision,” Mujahid said.
“As for the Syrian opposition forces: we do not confirm information about their entry into the country. We asked Turkey to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. If the political process and negotiations can help improve the situation in Afghanistan, we welcome them, but we will not allow [Turkey] to be in Afghanistan,” he added.