After nearly 20 years of presence in Afghanistan, NATO and U.S. troops have vacated their largest military base, Bagram. This indicates that complete withdrawal from the country is imminent.U.S. and NATO soldiers have left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. This was announced by a senior U.S. Army official. The base has been handed over to Afghan security forces, U.S. media reports said.
The official added that the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, continued to have all capabilities and authority to protect the force.The Afghan Defense Ministry did not initially comment. The radical Islamic Taliban, which has been on the rise again since NATO began withdrawing, welcomed the pullout. The militia “supports” the move, Taliban spokesman Sabihullah Mujahid told the AFP news agency. The complete withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan will “pave the way for Afghans to decide their own future,” he added.
Bagram is the largest U.S. and NATO military base in Afghanistan. At times, up to 30,000 troops have been stationed at the base, which is located about 50 kilometers from the capital, Kabul. The compound also houses a prison where Taliban fighters, Islamist extremists and terror suspects have been held.
Most NATO soldiers have already been withdrawn from Afghanistan. A gradual start had been made at the end of April. Several military bases have already been handed over to the Afghan army. There is no official information on where U.S. or other NATO troops are still located. International soldiers are probably still at Kabul airport, at the headquarters of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in the center of the city, and probably also at the U.S. embassy next door.
The departure from Bagram indicates that the complete withdrawal of international troops is now imminent. An exact date for this was not yet known. The U.S. government referred in this context to security concerns and the protection of the international airport in Kabul, which is still being negotiated.
The Bundeswehr already left the country on Tuesday, ending its longest foreign deployment in history.U.S. President Joe Biden had announced that all troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 at the latest – the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States. The 9/11 attacks were the catalyst for the U.S. military invasion.
However, with the troop withdrawal, violence in Afghanistan has also increased sharply in recent weeks. Peace talks between the radical Islamic Taliban and the Afghan government are not progressing. The Taliban are on the march again in several parts of the country, having already overrun dozens of districts and overwhelmed battered Afghan security forces there. Observers warn that the security situation in the country could worsen without NATO troops.