Pentagon: US troop pullout from Afghanistan over 90% complete

The Pentagon’s Central Command said that the United States had officially handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defence ahead of the September deadline to complete the pullout.

Aerial porters work with maintainers to load a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter into a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during the withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan, June 16, 2021.
Aerial porters work with maintainers to load a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter into a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during the withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan, June 16, 2021. (Reuters)

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is more than 90 percent complete, the Pentagon’s Central Command has announced.

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CentCom said it had officially handed over seven former US bases to the Afghan security forces and had evacuated the equivalent of nearly 1,000 C-17 air freighter loads of equipment from the country, ahead of the September deadline to complete the pullout.

On Friday US forces handed over the sprawling Bagram air base north of Kabul, the main centre of US military operations in the country for most of the past two decades of conflict.

Tuesday’s announcement underscored that most of the process of withdrawing US military and civilian personnel ordered by President Joe Biden in April had been completed.

Pullout to be completed by end of August

At the time of Biden’s order there were officially 2,500 US troops and 16,000 private contractors.

According to reports, there were also some 1,000 US special forces operating in Afghanistan at the time as well but not included in the official tally.

While Biden had set a deadline of September – the 20th anniversary of the Afghan-based Al-Qaeda attack on the United States that sparked the American invasion of the country – the Pentagon has moved quickly to reduce its presence to a minimum this month.

“We expect it to be completed by the end of August,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday after the Bagram handover.

The United States is expected to keep a reported 650 or more military personnel in the country to protect the US embassy and diplomats.

Germany closes consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif

Meanwhile, Germany has closed its consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan in the course of the international military withdrawal, a diplomat said on Tuesday.

The last German troops, who had been based in a sprawling military camp on the fringes of Mazar-i-Sharif, left the country last week.

The consulate general was also situated on the base since a 2016 suicide attack severely damaged the building in Mazar-i-Sharif that originally housed the representation.

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