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After 20 years, US military force left Afghan Bagram airbase

The US military has departed Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase, the epicenter of its campaign to overthrow the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, after nearly 20 years, according to two US officials.

According to The Associated Press, the airbase was handed over to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in its entirety on Friday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide the information to the public.

General Austin S Miller, the US top commander in Afghanistan, “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to safeguard the forces,” according to one of the individuals.
Bagram Airbase, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kabul, saw over 100,000 US troops travel through its huge compound at its peak.
According to Reuters, an Afghan official said the base would be officially handed over to the government at a ceremony on Saturday.

The departure from the airfield is the clearest sign that the last of the 2,500-3,500 US troops in Afghanistan have departed or are about to leave, months ahead of President Joe Biden’s vow that they would be gone by September 11.

Soon after the US announced in mid-April that it was ending its “forever war,” it became evident that the departure of US troops and their anticipated 7,000 NATO allies would be closer to July 4, the country’s Independence Day.

The Associated Press analyzed announcements from numerous countries and found that the majority of European troops left with minimal fanfare, in stark contrast to the dramatic and public display of power and solidarity when NATO allies lined up to support the US invasion in 2001.

Handover ceremony at Camp Anthony, from U.S. Army to Afghan Defense Forces in Helmand province, Afghanistan May 2, 2021. The picture was taken on                 May 2, 2021. Ministry of Defense Press Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. 

The US has declined to announce when the last of its troops will leave Afghanistan, citing security concerns as well as the ongoing negotiations over the safety of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. The airport is now guarded by Turkish and US troops.

In addition, the US will station roughly 6,500 troops in Afghanistan to guard its large embassy in Kabul. Their presence will be covered by a bilateral arrangement with the Afghan government, it is understood.