US troops leave Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield after nearly two decades

The United States military has finally left Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield after nearly two decades, reported the Associated Press on Friday. The infamous airfield had been the site of several military encounters, particularly the epicenter of the US ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Citing two US military officials familiar with the development, AP reported that the Bagram airfield, in its entirety, has been handed over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force. The officials, however, remained anonymous since they were not officially authorised to release the development to the media.

The Bagram airbase in Afghanistan has been the site of the US military’s war against the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorist outfits. It remained staffed by the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing of the US Force for nearly 20 years, while rotating units of the US Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps also used the airfield as a base.

Although the US troops have now officially withdrawn from the Bagram airbase, one of its top commanders, General Austin S Miller, “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the forces,” said the officials to AP on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier, US president Joe Biden had promised that US troops would leave Afghanistan completely by September 11. The current withdrawal of the 2,500-3,500 US troops from the Bagram airbase is a clear indication of a follow-up on that promise. It was clear soon after the mid-April announcement that the US was ending its “forever war” that the departure of U.S. soldiers and their estimated 7,000 NATO allies would be nearer to July 4, when America celebrates its Independence Day.

Currently, the United States harbours around 6,500 troops in Afghanistan to protect the American embassy in Kabul. However, it has not yet been divulged when the very last US soldier will leave Afghanistan, for security reasons.

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