Afghanistan

Afghanistan: US 'Plans To Withdraw Troops By 11 September'

The date for the withdrawal of troops will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

US President Joe Biden has decided to leave American troops in Afghanistan beyond a 1 May deadline and has set the 20th anniversary of the 11 September attacks as the new goal, US officials have said.

The May deadline had been negotiated with the Taliban by the Trump administration.

US officials provided details on Mr Biden’s decision, speaking ahead of the announcement.

It was first reported by The Washington Post.

Mr Biden has been hinting for weeks that he was going to let the deadline lapse, and as the days went by it became clear that an orderly withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 troops would be difficult and was unlikely.

He said in late March: "It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline.

"Just in terms of tactical reasons, it’s hard to get those troops out."

Mr Biden added: "And if we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way."

In a February 2020 agreement with the administration of then-president Donald Trump, the Taliban agreed to halt attacks and hold peace talks with the Afghan government, in exchange for a US commitment to a complete withdrawal by May 2021.

Sunset behind Gardez mountains in Afghanistan 150618 CREDIT NATO
The UK currently has around 750 personnel in Afghanistan (Picture: NATO).

The deal also included NATO forces deployed to the country. 

The UK currently has approximately 750 personnel in Afghanistan.

Over the past year, US military commanders and defence officials have said that attacks on US troops have largely paused, but they say the Taliban have increased attacks on the Afghans.

Commanders have argued that the Taliban have failed to meet the conditions of the peace agreement by continuing attacks on the Afghans and failing to totally cut ties with al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the US, NATO allies and partners to support a secure and stable Afghanistan.

"For there to be any chance of a lasting peace, the Taliban must engage meaningfully in a dialogue with the Afghan government.

"Any change to our security presence will be made in agreement with Allies and after consultation with our partners."

Cover image: File image of US troops in Afghanistan (Picture: US Department of Defense).