Turkey has begun evacuating its armed forces from Afghanistan after evaluating the current situation and conditions, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement late Wednesday, referring to the Taliban's takeover of the war-ridden country.
"Turkish Armed Forces returning to their homeland with pride of successfully fulfilling task entrusted to them," it added.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have operated in Afghanistan under the U.N., NATO, and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, welfare, and stability of the Afghan people, the statement said.
It added that the Turkish troops intervened together with the soldiers of other countries during the chaos and ensured security at the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.
As many as 1,129 civilian Turkish citizens were evacuated through military aircraft during the process, the statement noted.
“Withdrawal from Afghanistan could be completed in 36 hours,” Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın also said during a televised interview later in the day.
“Our troops completed their duty successfully,” he added.
“Civilian experts could provide support in running Kabul airport,” Kalın further added.
“We have to act in line with the realities on the field.”
The official also added that Turkey is in contact with Iranian authorities regarding a possible migration flow.
Earlier on the same day, Turkish officials said that the Taliban have asked Turkey for technical help to run the Kabul airport after the departure of foreign forces but insist that Ankara's military also withdraw fully by the end of August deadline.
After the Taliban seized control of the country Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport.
Turkey has praised what it described as moderate statements by the Taliban since they captured Kabul, and has said it is open to engaging with them once a new government is formed.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday the group sought good ties with Ankara.
"We want good relations with Turkey, the Turkish government and the Muslim people of the Turkish nation. As for Turkish forces stationed in Afghanistan, we are not in need of them in our country and once the evacuation is completed we will secure the airport by ourselves," Mujahid said.
Turkey had been responsible for securing Kabul airport under the NATO deployment and has been involved in evacuation efforts over the last two weeks.
The United States says it is coordinating with regional partners, as well as the Taliban, about the future operation of Kabul airport.
"A functioning state, a functioning economy, a government that has some semblance of a relationship with the rest of the world, needs a functioning commercial airport," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.
"We are in discussions with the Taliban on this very front. They have indicated to us in no uncertain terms that they seek to have a functioning commercial airport."
The Taliban recently declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul, while Western nations scrambled Monday to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport as frantic Afghans searched for a way out.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Sunday, "The Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honor, property and self-preservation of their countrymen," after fleeing the country as the militants entered the capital virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed. The ensuing hours saw hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave Kabul airport.
"Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years," Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban's political office, told Qatar-based media outlet Al-Jazeera TV. "Thanks to God, the war is over in the country," he said.
It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep that ended in Kabul as government forces, trained for two decades and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.
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