US drones enter Afghanistan through Pakistan: Taliban

Photo: Taliban-run Ministry of Defense

Taliban defense minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid said US drones were entering Afghanistan using Pakistan’s airspace, calling it a “clear invasion” of the country.

Mujahid, who appeared at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday, said the country’s radar systems were destroyed by the US before it left Afghanistan last year, but their intelligence information has confirmed that US is using Pakistan airspace for its drone operations in Afghanistan.

“Our demand from Pakistan is to not allow its soil to be used against us,” Yaqub said.

Pointing to US President Joe Biden’s remarks on killing al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mujahid said it is a claim and that no sign of Zawahiri’s presence has been found in Afghanistan.

He added that they will continue their investigation in this regard and will share their findings with the media once it is completed.

On former Afghan army’s helicopters in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, he said they have spoken with Tajik and Uzbek officials but Americans are not allowing them to transfer the choppers to Afghanistan.

An ‘army’ of 150,000 members

The Taliban defense minister put the number of its “army” at 150,000, but said the number will increase

“The national army of Islamic emirate is capable of defending the country’s territorial integrity and independence,” Mujahid said.

According to him, the Taliban has eight border regiments, each with over 3,000 members.

Taliban chief of staff Qari Fasihuddin, meanwhile, told reporters at the press conference that former army members “who proved their honesty for Afghanistan” have not been removed from the army ranks.

He said a group of Afghans who returned from the military academy in India will soon be appointed at the Ministry of Defense.

This comes as the Taliban is accused of extrajudicial killings of former security force members during one year of its rule in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the group arrested dozens of civilians in Panjshir province over the last week on charges of links with the anti-Taliban resistance front.

But Qari Fasihuddin said the situation in Panjshir is “under control” calling recent casualties of the group as propaganda.