Afghan soldiers guard the gate of Bagram US Air Base on the day US troops evacuated it, Parwan Province, Afghanistan July 2, 2021.
Mohammad Ismail | Acesparks
WASHINGTON – The US military quietly abandoned Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Friday, a historic milestone following President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw US troops from the war-weary country.
Two US officials told NBC News, on condition of anonymity Because the decision has yet to be officially announced, the US handed over the once-legendary airbase to the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces.
In 2012, at its peak, Bagram saw more than 100,000 US troops pass by. It was the largest US military installation in Afghanistan.
Biden in April announced the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, effectively ending America’s longest war.
Asked about the decline in Afghanistan, Biden told reporters on Friday, “Look, we were in that war for 20 years, 20 years.”
“I think they [Afghan leaders] have the ability to run the government. Down the road, there’s going to be more talks, I suspect,” Biden said, adding that “the Afghans will have to be able to do it themselves.”
US President Joe Biden speaks at the June jobs report at the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC on July 2, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
In April, the White House confirmed that US troops had begun the withdrawal process from Afghanistan and that the Pentagon was actively deploying additional troops and military equipment to protect forces in the region.
“Potential opponents should know that if they attack us in our return, we will defend ourselves, [and] Our colleagues, with all the equipment at our disposal,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters while traveling on Air Force One in April.
“While these actions will initially result in an increase in the level of forces, we are committed to getting all US military personnel out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021,” he said, adding that the Biden administration is intent on a “safe and responsible” exit. . From a war-torn country.
The removal of nearly 3,000 US service members coincides with the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which prompted America’s entry into protracted wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Afghanistan District Administrator for Bagram told the Associated Press that the US departure occurred overnight and without coordination with local officials. As a result, dozens of robbers entered the unsafe gates.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called Friday’s departure from Bagram “a positive step” and told NBC News that “for now”. Taliban has no plans to capture huge airbase, which is located about 40 miles north of Kabul.
US Army soldiers and contractors load the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles, HUMV, to be shipped for transport in Kandahar, Afghanistan July 13, 2020, as US forces prepare for withdrawal.
US Army | via Acesparks
US forces toppled the Taliban in 2001 when the group harbored Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks. Two years later, US troops invaded Iraq, aiming to oust the then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. .
Twenty years later, about 2,300 American soldiers lost their lives and thousands were wounded in America’s longest war. More than 100,000 Afghans are estimated to have been killed or wounded since the start of the conflict.