US' Afghanistan withdrawal extension 'unlikely,' UK defense secretary says

Ben Wallace says security risk rises in Afghanistan.

US' Afghanistan withdrawal extension 'unlikely,' UK defense secretary says

It is “unlikely” that the US will extend the Aug. 31 deadline to pull troops from Afghanistan as it gets “more and more dangerous," Britain’s defense secretary said Tuesday.

Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace said: "As we get closer, it's correct to say the security risk goes up, it gets more and more dangerous.”

"Add-on groups and other terrorist groups like (Daesh/)ISIS would like to be seen taking credit, would like to be seen chasing the West out of Afghanistan," he added.

A Taliban spokesperson on Monday warned of “consequences” if foreign forces stayed in the country beyond Aug. 31, calling the date just over a week from now a “red line.”

President Joe Biden on Sunday said the US is considering extending the deadline, pledging that any American who wants to leave Afghanistan will be evacuated.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan will be discussed during an online G7 leaders’ summit today and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to push Biden for an extension of the self-imposed deadline.

Wallace said he thinks an extension would be unlikely, “not only because of what the Taliban has said but also the public statement from President Biden.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, said the US continues to engage with the Taliban daily "on every aspect of what’s happening in (the capital) Kabul right now" amid ongoing operations to evacuate Americans and Afghans seeking refugee status.

"We’ll continue those conversations with them. Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how this proceeds. No one else’s," said Sullivan.

Biden has left the door open to staying in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31, but said on Sunday he hopes that they "will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions" on the matter.