Turkish officials wave off Taliban threats against Turkey as 'symbolic' - BBC Turkish

Threats from the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan aimed at Turkey are only symbolic gestures to demonstrate their dominance in the country, BBC Turkish reported on Wednesday, citing anonymous Turkish and U.S officials. 

According to the outlet's sources, the Taliban's threats should be interpreted more as posturing than any genuine indication that the militants will target Turkish soldiers based at Kabul International Airport after U.S forces withdraw in September. One unnamed security official in Turkey told BBC that recent statements promising to "take a stand" against Ankara if it goes through with its plans were aimed squarely at getting international recognition. 

The official noted that the Taliban views U.S forces as occupiers from a foreign land, but this did not extend to Turkey, who the source insists the Taliban understands to have no secret agenda in the country. 

"These are symbolic statements. This is the message given to the international community in the background, 'Nothing will happen except what we say'. Therefore, we do not think that there will be an aggressive attitude towards Turkey," they told BBC. 

On Tuesday, the Taliban repeated their demand that Turkey follow other international forces out of Afghanistan once the U.S finishes its withdrawal in September. Otherwise, they too can become targets in the future after nearly two decades of a generally noiseless presence as part of a wider international coalition. 

The Turkish proposal to continue providing security for Kabul's international airport has been welcomed by the U.S as well as officials in Kabul. However, the mission will be limited to ensuring the airport remains functional and will not become a combat mission akin to Turkey's interventions in Syria or Libya. 

To that end, Turkey's defence ministry made clear that a larger troop deployment is unlikely and other Turkish officials explained to BBC that soldiers on duty will only fight if they come under attack.  

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