Kabul: The Special Operations Corps said in a statement on Wednesday that Camp Morehead of the US troops in the Special Operations Corps’ garrison in Kabul’s Rishkhor area has handed over to the Afghan commandos.
The Camp, established in 2007, was used by foreign forces to train and advise the commandos. This is the third international force camp to be handed over to Afghan forces since the withdrawal of troops began formally on May 1.
Earlier, US forces in Helmand and German forces in Balkh handed over bases to Afghan forces. Now, the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is almost 12 percent finished, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday, however, he hid the numbers left on ground, stating that the hidden figures are meant to protect troops from possible Taliban attack as the United States wraps up its longest-running conflict.
“US Central Command has expressed a concern about the release of personnel figures specifically given that we have to assume, and we are still assuming, that this drawdown could be opposed by the Taliban,” Kirby said. The Taliban had warned the US of violent consequences for allegedly violating the Doha agreement by extending the deadline to September 11 and not fully withdrawing by May 1. Since then, the war-ravaged country has seen a lot of violence too on the ground.
Since May 1, US forces in Afghanistan have shipped approximately 104 C-17 loads of equipment out of the country, turned over more than 1,800 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency to destroy, and officially handed over one facility to the Afghan National Army, the US Central Command said in a statement on Tuesday.
Roughly 3,500 U.S. troops were in Afghanistan as of January, but force numbers may temporarily swell as several hundred Army Rangers were sent to the country last week to help with the drawdown.
Even as the retrograde continues, the US is still seeking a diplomatic peace in Afghanistan. Kirby said the Defense Department is committed to working with State Department personnel even as the withdrawal continues. “We still support, and want to see, a political end of this war and to see that the Taliban and the Afghan government work this out,” he said.
Even though international forces are withdrawing from the country, the US has stated that they will maintain an over the horizon capacity to help and support the Afghan forces. However, on Tuesday, Pakistan ruled out the possibility of again providing its military bases to the United States for future counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad, that his government has adopted a policy that allows it to become “only partners in peace” and not join any future US war.
“We do not intend to allow boots on the ground and no US bases are being transferred to Pakistan,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi also stated that Pakistan has also been consistently using its leverage over the Taliban, who have been waging a deadly insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government, to encourage them to stop their violent campaign and negotiate a political settlement with Afghan rivals.
The foreign minister said “we feel” the Taliban’s engagement in the Afghan peace process would bring and enhance the “international respectability and recognition” that the group required.
“If they want to be acceptable, if they want delisting to take place, if they want recognition then engagement, giving up violence and looking for a political solution is in their political interest,” he said.
Pakistani military bases and ground and air lines of communication played a vital role in facilitating and sustaining the US-led military invasion of Afghanistan 20 years ago.
Pakistan has long retaken control of its bases, though its airspace and land routes are still being used to ferry nonlethal military supplies for international forces across the Afghan border and facilitating the ongoing US troop drawdown process.