Insurgent group says its fighters will be "compelled to" fight foreign forces if the US fails to meet the May 1 deadline to withdraw its remaining soldiers from Afghanistan.

A security personnel walks past a wall mural with images of US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Kabul on July 31, 2020.
A security personnel walks past a wall mural with images of US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Kabul on July 31, 2020. (AFP)

The Taliban has threatened to resume fighting against foreign troops in Afghanistan if they did not meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw as part of US-Taliban deal. 

The Taliban said in a statement on Friday that its fighters will be "compelled to... continue its Jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate its country" if the deadline was not met.

The Taliban threat followed comments by US President Joe Biden, who on Thursday said it would be "hard" to withdraw the last US troops by the deadline, which was agreed with Washington last year.

READ MORE: Biden: 'Hard' to meet May 1 Afghanistan troop exit deadline

Deadline at risk

Speaking at the first formal White House news conference of his presidency, Biden said it would be hard to meet the May 1 deadline to withdraw the last 3,500 US troops "just in terms of tactical reasons."

He apparently was referring to the enormous logistical challenges of pulling out the roughly 10,000 American and foreign troops and their equipment within the next six weeks.

Biden was asked if it was possible that there still would be US troops in Afghanistan next year. "I can't picture that being the case," he responded.

The deadline was set in a February 2020 deal struck with the Taliban under former president Donald Trump.

READ MORE: Pentagon chief Austin visits Afghanistan as US troop deadline looms

International pressure

Biden's comments on the deadline came as his administration strives to build international pressure on the Taliban and US-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government to reach a peace agreement and a ceasefire before the deadline.

Peace talks, however, are stalled and by suggesting US troops would be gone next year, Biden risked weakening Ghani's bargaining hand and encouraging the Taliban, who US officials say have stepped up violence in their quest to oust him, to play for time, some analysts said.

"If it is certain that we are going to leave, which will pull NATO (troops) out, too, no matter what, then it would, I think, trigger everybody arming for more war," said Ronald Neumann, a former US ambassador to Kabul.

READ MORE: Afghan government, Taliban agree to accelerate peace talks

Source: Reuters