American military forces completely pulled out of Bagram Airfield overnight, all but ending it’s ability to conduct large military operations in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Friday.
“With little fanfare and no public ceremony, American troops left the base on Thursday night, U.S. and Afghan officials said, even as the Taliban sweeps through the country’s northern provinces, capturing large swathes of territory,” wrote Kabul-based Times reporter Thomas Gibbons-Neff — a former United States Marine who did two tours in Afghanistan.
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The massive air base, located about 30 miles north of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, will be used by the Afghan military, according to The New York Times.
As of Thursday, the airfield had still been operational, the Times reported.
Nearly 20 years from the start of the war in Afghanistan, it’s unclear how many American warfighters remain in country, as the Pentagon has stopped releasing specific details of the military drawdown, Stars and Stripes reported. As of last month, about 1,500 U.S. forces were left in Afghanistan, according to Stars and Stripes.
Around 650 American troops will remain in the country to protect the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, The Associated Press reported. “Their presence it is understood will be covered in a bilateral agreement with the Afghan government,” reported the AP on Friday.
U.S. Leaves Largest Afghan Base as Full Withdrawal Nears https://t.co/nfg0vkvNVJ
— Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@Tmgneff) July 2, 2021
Commander in Chief Joe Biden said in April that the U.S. military would begin a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan, and ultimately be out of the county, by Sept. 11, 2021 — 20 years after the infamous 9/11 attack by Al-Qaeda.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” President Biden said in April.
Around 241,000 people have been killed during America’s longest war — to include over 2,400 American services members, more than 78,000 Afghan military forces and around 71,300 civilians — and has cost U.S. taxpayers upward of $2 trillion, Military Times reported.
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When asked about the withdrawal by reporters on Friday, Biden became frustrated, and said, “I’m not going to answer any more questions about Afghanistan,” CNN reported.
“Look, It’s the Fourth of July,” the president added, according to CNN. “I’m concerned that you guys are asking me questions that I’ll answer next week. This is a holiday weekend, I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening.”