US formally starts withdrawal troops from Afghanistan...

Dhaka, Friday   18 June 2021

US formally starts withdrawal troops from Afghanistan

 International Desk

 Published: 01:59 PM, 2 May 2021  

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

The United States has started formally withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, beginning the end of what President Joe Biden called "the forever war". 

The US and Nato have had a presence in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. 

But the withdrawal, which runs until September 11, comes amid escalating violence, with Afghan security forces on high alert for reprisal attacks. 

The Taliban have warned they are no longer bound by an agreement not to target international troops. 

Under a deal signed last year between the militants and then-President Donald Trump, foreign forces were to have left by May 1 while the Taliban held off attacking international troops. 

Officials told Reuters during this time the Taliban has been protecting western military bases from rival Islamist groups. That has not stopped Taliban attacks on Afghan forces and civilians. 

US General Scott Miller warned against attacks on foreign troops as they start to withdraw. 

"Make no mistake, we have the military means to respond forcefully to any type of attacks against the coalition and the military means to support the Afghan security forces," he said in a video posted on Twitter. 

US President Joe Biden last month pushed back the 1 May pullout, saying some troops would stay on until 11 September this year, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, citing the security situation.

A Taliban spokesman said "this violation in principle has opened the way for [Taliban fighters] to take every counter-action it deems appropriate against the occupying forces". 

But he also said Taliban fighters would await instructions from leaders before mounting attacks. Some analysts suggested with a US deadline for withdrawal in place large-scale attacks could be averted.

Meanwhile the US faces the logistical challenge of packing up and leaving. The AP report the military has been taking inventory, deciding what will be shipped back and what will be sold as junk on Afghanistan's markets. - BBC