Officials have disclosed that the United States military has left Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase, the epicentre of its war to remove the Taliban and hunt down the Al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks.
The airbase was officially handed over to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in its entirety, Rohullah Ahamadzai, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense told CNN journalists.
One of the officials also mentioned that the US top commander in Afghanistan, General Austin S Miller, “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the forces”.
But the withdrawal from Bagram, even if it was without any pomp or special ceremony, is a symbolic victory for the Taliban, who have waged a relentless cross-country battle against the Afghan military, pushing back government forces and overrunning a growing number of districts.
A Taliban representative said the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan a ‘positive step’.
“The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan was a reason for continuation of fighting in the country,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid said.
“If foreign forces leave Afghanistan, Afghans can decide future issues among themselves. We will step forward for the security of the country and our hope for the peace would increase and inshallah we will have development,” he added
A top Afghan official said the base would be officially handed over to the government at a ceremony on Saturday.
This withdrawal of the US military from the airbase is the clearest indication that the last of the 2,500-3,500 US forces have left Afghanistan or are nearing a departure, months ahead of President Joe Biden’s promise that they would be gone by September 11.