The commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, said an orderly withdrawal of foreign forces and the handing over of military bases and equipment to Afghan forces had started.
Miller said on Sunday he was acting on orders based on US President Joe Biden’s decision to end America’s longest war, believing the protracted and intractable battle in Afghanistan was no longer aligned with US priorities.
Earlier this month, Biden said he would withdraw his troops from Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the militant attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that sparked the war in Afghanistan.
Miller, who has commanded US forces and the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan in their fight against the Taliban and other militant Islamist groups since 2018, said foreign forces will continue to have “the military means and the ability to fully protect oneself during the ongoing retrograde and will support the Afghan security forces. “
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“I had the opportunity to speak to Taliban members with the Taliban Political Commission, and told them that a return to violence, an effort to force a military decision, would be a tragedy for Afghanistan and the Afghan people, “Miller told reporters in the capital Kabul.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were ousted by US-led forces. Since then, they have led a long-standing insurgency and now control large swathes of territory.
In recent weeks, security experts have said they doubt the Taliban will allow US forces, which they are calling invaders, to leave the country peacefully at a time when clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban have failed. not decreased.
The withdrawal of foreign forces is expected to begin on May 1, in accordance with an agreement with the Taliban in 2020.
“As we demote to zero US forces, we will cede the (military) bases mainly to the (Afghan) Defense Ministry and other Afghan forces,” Miller said, adding that the Taliban have pledged to sever relations with Al-Qaeda, the Islamist extremist group.
The Taliban government’s protection of Al Qaeda was the main reason for the US invasion of Afghanistan after the September 2001 attacks.
A United Nations report released in January said there were as many as 500 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban had a close relationship with them. The Taliban deny the presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.