US flag flying over mission support site in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan
Afghanistan

Afghanistan: US Hands Over Facility To Afghan Army As Troop Withdrawal Continues

As the withdrawal continues, US officials are being careful not to disclose troop numbers in Afghanistan.

US flag flying over mission support site in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan

The US military has officially handed over a facility to the Afghan National Army as part of its ongoing withdrawal of troops from the country.

Airlifters have also flown out the equivalent of 104 C-17 transport aircraft's worth of materials and US personnel have handed over more than 1,800 pieces of equipment to the Defence Logistics Agency for destruction.

As the withdrawal continues, US officials are being careful not to disclose troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said this is to prevent to Taliban from gaining a level of situational awareness.

Mr Kirby added the US has increased capabilities in Afghanistan to protect operations and troops, while last week, the Pentagon sent additional troops and capabilities to the region to increase security for the withdrawal.

It included six more B-52 Long Range Strike bombers,12 fighter bombers and an extension to the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

"We have an obligation to keep our people safe, particularly in a retrograde that could be opposed," he said.

"We have to assume that this is going to be an opposed retrograde. 

"And if we assumed anything less, it would be irresponsible of us."

The deadline for the US withdrawal is 11 September – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The US Department of Defense has said it will continue a relationship with the Afghan government after the withdrawal.

"We still support, and want to see, a political end of this war and to see that the Taliban and the Afghan government work this out," Mr Kirby said.

"There are very active discussions going on now inside the department to better define what over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities we will be able to avail ourselves of."

Earlier this week, the Taliban announced a ceasefire in Afghanistan for the religious holiday of Eid. 

It follows weeks of increased violence in the country which included an attack on a girls' school at the weekend that killed more than 60 people, mostly schoolgirls aged 11 to 15.

The attack underscored deep concern that violence will spread as US-led troops leave the country and EU foreign ministers have been debating ways to maintain support for Afghanistan.

The US officially started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and is aiming to complete the drawdown by 11 September - the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Under the Trump administration, the US had agreed with the Taliban to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by 1 May 2021, but that was pushed back by President Joe Biden in April. 

NATO also said it would begin removing military personnel from 1 May, with the aim of completing its withdrawal "within a few months".

British troops are in Afghanistan in a training role as part of a NATO mission.

Cover image: File photo of a US flag flying over a mission support site in Afghanistan (Picture: US Air Force).