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Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-05-01 06:21:53 –

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — The final phase of ending America’s “eternal war” in Afghanistan 20 years later officially began on Saturday …

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — The final phase of ending America’s “eternal war” in Afghanistan 20 years later officially began on Saturday, with the last US and NATO troops withdrawing by the end of summer.

President Joe Biden has set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining troops (about 2,500 to 3,500 US troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers).

Even before Saturday, the hard work of packing had begun.

The military takes inventory and decides what to return to the United States, what to give to Afghan security forces, and what to sell as junk in the Afghan market. For the past few weeks, the military has been flying equipment on huge C-17 freighters.

According to the Brown University War Expenses Project, the United States is estimated to have spent more than $ 2 trillion in Afghanistan over the last two decades, documenting the hidden costs of US military involvement.

Pentagon officials and diplomats told The Associated Press that the withdrawal included closing a smaller base last year. They said that only about 60 military personnel have left the country since Biden announced a withdrawal date in late summer in mid-April.

The United States and its NATO allies entered Afghanistan together on October 7, 2001, hunting al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks who lived under the protection of the country’s Taliban rulers. Two months later, the Taliban were defeated and the al-Qaeda fighter and its leader, Osama Bin Laden, fled.

Biden said in an announcement of his withdrawal last month that his first mission was accomplished ten years ago when he killed Bin Laden in an adjacent Pakistani hideout. Al Qaeda has deteriorated since then, but the threat of terrorism has “transferred” to a global phenomenon that cannot be contained by stationing thousands of troops in a country, he said.

So far, the United States and NATO have not received a promise from the Taliban not to attack the military during the withdrawal. In response to AP’s question, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the Taliban leadership is still pondering the strategy.

Rebel groups continue to blame Washington for violating a contract signed with Biden’s predecessor over a year ago. In that agreement, the United States said it would eliminate all troops by May 1.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Saturday that the deadline for a complete withdrawal on May 1 had passed, “the way Mujahideen (Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate) deems appropriate against the occupation forces. Was opened. “

However, battlefield fighters waited for a decision from the leadership before launching an attack, which he said was based on “national sovereignty, values, and higher interests.”

Violence has skyrocketed in Afghanistan since the signing of the agreement in February 2020. The peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which were part of the agreement, soon stalled. Twenty-one people were killed in a truck bomb in eastern Rogar on Friday, many of them police and students.

According to the Costs of War project, Afghans paid the highest prices since 2001, killing 47,245 civilians. Millions more have fled in Afghanistan or fled to Pakistan, Iran and Europe.

According to Afghan watchers, Afghan security forces are expected to experience increased pressure from the Taliban after the withdrawal if a tentative peace agreement is not reached.

Since the beginning of the war, they have suffered heavy losses and it is estimated that 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan troops have been killed. Afghan troops have been abused by corruption. The United States and NATO will pay $ 4 billion annually to maintain the military.

The actual number is believed to be lower, but there are about 300,000 Afghan troops in the book. Commanders have been found to inflate to raise salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” according to US observers who monitor spending in Washington’s Afghanistan.

Last year was the only year in which the US and NATO forces did not suffer any losses. According to the Pentagon, 2,442 US troops have been killed and 20,666 injured since 2001. It is estimated that more than 3,800 US private security contractors have been killed. The Pentagon is not tracking their deaths.

The conflict also killed 1,144 people from NATO countries.

The Taliban, on the other hand, is the strongest since it was banished in 2001. It is difficult to map their interests to territorial dominance, but it is believed that they dominate or completely dominate almost half of Afghanistan.

“We’re talking to the Americans leaving … you fought a meaningless war and paid for it, and we made a huge sacrifice for liberation,” Shaheen told AP on Friday. Told.

In a more reconciled tone, he added: “If you … open a new chapter on helping Afghanistan in rebuilding and rebuilding the country, Afghanistan will appreciate it.”

Biden said in announcing his departure that waiting for ideal conditions to leave would entrust the United States to an indefinite stay.

There is growing concern that the capital of Afghanistan and the whole country may be in turmoil following the last departure of foreign troops. After billions of dollars and decades of war, many Afghans wonder if it’s worth it.

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