Afghanistan: US to leave Bagram air base after 20 years
All United States troops are expected to leave the Bagram air base in Afghanistan on Friday after nearly 20 years, US officials reportedly said. Bagram is the biggest air base in Afghanistan and it has served as the center for America's "War on Terror" in the country. The development indicates the imminent conclusion to America's longest war, launched after the infamous 9/11 attack.
Air base handed over to Afghan authorities: Report
Two US officials told the Associated Press that the US military has decided to leave Bagram. The air base has been handed over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force in its entirety, they said. However, the US top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S Miller, "still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the forces," one of the officials added.
Most NATO allies exited quietly this week
The latest development is indicative that President Joe Biden is looking to fulfill his promise to withdraw all American troops by September 11. The mid-April announcement was viewed as a step toward ending the "forever war" in Afghanistan. Most NATO allies have already exited quietly this week, reports said. The last of the 2,500-3,500 US troops are now set to leave the war-torn country.
When exactly will all troops leave Afghanistan?
Reportedly, the US has refused to state a deadline for when the last soldier will leave Afghanistan, citing security concerns. The protection of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul remains to be negotiated. The airport is currently being protected by US and Turkish soldiers. Until a new agreement is reached, the NATO-led mission Resolute Support Mission (RSM) would appear to continue.
US troops to continue protecting embassy in Kabul
The US will reportedly also continue to have 6,500 troops in Afghanistan protecting its embassy in the capital of Kabul. Notably, in the past two months, the Islamic fundamentalist terror group Taliban has launched several attacks across Afghanistan.
Hush withdrawal symbolic of Taliban's victory
The Bagram air base, located about an hour's drive away from Kabul, had seen as many as 1,00,000 US troops through its compound at its week. It had functioned as the epicenter of America's "War on Terror" in Afghanistan. However, the hush withdrawal is symbolic of the victory of the Taliban, which has launched attacks against the Afghan military.
Bagram air base had shops, cinemas, gyms, etc.
Once just a runway, the Bagram air base was turned into a city of itself. It now has gyms, classrooms, cinemas, and shops (including Burger King and Pizza Hut) for thousands of service members and contractors working at the base. It functioned as a launchpad for US military operations across the country and also housed thousands of Taliban and jihadist prisoners.