U.S. Air Force C-17s Drawdown from Afghan

US Begins Official Withdrawal From Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force C-17s Drawdown from Afghan

The United States has formally begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

US officials on the ground say that the process has already started, but the 1 May date officially marks the deadline date of troops withdrawing, agreed with the Taliban in 2020. 

Bagram airbase has been busier than usual with aircraft already removing kit and troops. 

Afghan security forces have been on high alert for any possible attacks on retreating US troops.

Afghanistan's Acting Interior Minister Hayatullah Hayat warned there could be a chance the Taliban "might increase the violence".

The end of the US' 20-year presence in the country comes despite the absence of a peace deal between the Afghan Government and Taliban.

A stark reminder of what remains came late on Friday, when a car bomb exploded in Pul-e-Alam, south of the capital, killing at least 24 people and wounding 110 more.

US President Joe Biden Giving Maiden speech to Joint Congress
US President Joe Biden giving maiden speech to Joint Congress.

In an address to the US Joint Congress, President Biden said he was determined to end what he called "the forever war", announcing that the withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 American forces would be complete by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

"An horrific attack 20 years ago... cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021," he said.

The exit of US Forces has left some in the country feeling worried about what may come next. 

A worker for a local radio station, Mena Nowrozi, told reporters that "everyone is scared that we might go back to the dark days of the Taliban era".

"The Taliban are still the same; they have not changed. The US should have extended their presence by at least a year or two." 

However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insists that government forces, who for months have carried out most of the ground fighting against the Taliban, are "fully capable" of keeping the insurgents at bay.

He said the pull-out also means the Taliban have no reason to fight.

In a speech Ghani said: "Who are you killing? What are you destroying? Your pretext of fighting the foreigners is now over."

NATO nations - Germany - German soldiers with assault rifles
German soldiers with assault rifles at a farewell ceremony (Picture: PA Images).

The German military have the second largest contingent in Afghanistan, with 1,100 troops still based there.

They have now finished training with local forces and will also turn their attention to withdrawing from the country. 

More than 100,000 German soldiers have been deployed to Afghanistan, with many serving more than one tour.

Fifty-nine German troops have died during the conflict, 35 of them killed in combat or as a result of militant attacks.

This makes it Germany's deadliest military mission since the Second World War

Wrapping up operation means they will now have to redeploy about 800 containers of equipment, such as armoured vehicles, helicopters, weapons and ammunition.

Cover Image: US Department of Defense.

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