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File photo: A US soldier hands an Afghan child a gift in Langarhar in 2010 File photo: A US soldier hands an Afghan child a gift in Langarhar in 2010  (AFP or licensors)

US announces troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

The United States announces plans to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan within 5 months, and urges NATO allies to work on an adaptation phase in its mission there.

By Devin Watkins

All US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021, which will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks on America.

The White House says President Joe Biden will lay out his vison for the path forward in Afghanistan and the withdrawal timeline later on Wednesday.

The US president is then expected to honor American troops who have fought and died in the South Asian nation with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

The White House spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters that President Biden “has been consistent in his view that there is not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there far too long.”

‘Endless war’

The US invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, after the 9/11 attacks which were coordinated by al-Qaida from there by Osama bin Laden under protection from the Taliban.

Over 2,200 US soldiers have died in the 20-year conflict, which has cost around $1 trillion.

The operation crippled al-Qaida and drove the Taliban from power.

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Prospects for peace

Analysts say the withdrawal of Americans roughly 2,500 troops will leave the Taliban in control of large areas of the country.

An intelligence report issued Tuesday warned that the group will likely make gains on the battlefield if the US-led coalition ceases its support for the Afghan government.

It also noted that the prospects for a peace deal are “low”, despite ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban.

Safe withdrawal

The Trump administration had set a 1 May deadline for the return of US troops, but defense officials argued against it.

President Biden’s new timeline will reportedly allow for an orderly and safe withdrawal of all American troops.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was time for the NATO military alliance to pull out of Afghanistan.

He said the US is working with allies to prepare an adaptation phase as the US winds down its longest war.

14 April 2021, 12:40