Residual Troops On The Cards As Withdrawal May Finish By Mid-July: Report
Kabul: As per new reports, a Turkish garrison will be deployed near Kabul airport and 600 US marines and an unspecified number of troops could be deployed to guard Washington’s embassy. This comes even as US troops are reportedly expected to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by mid-July, several months ahead of the originally planned September 11 goal.
Hundreds of foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan as part of US plans to prevent a Taliban capture of the capital, The Sun reported on Wednesday. Violence has soared in recent weeks as the Taliban escalates their offensive and on Tuesday, Australia announced it was closing its Afghanistan embassy, expressing fears over the “increasingly uncertain security environment.”
A foreign defense official in Kabul has told AFP that several other foreign embassies will follow suit in the coming weeks or months. Key among the concerns of foreign missions is ensuring the security of Kabul airport, the only emergency route out of the country for Western diplomats and humanitarian workers. Hence, the move to secure it.
Meanwhile, military officials told The New York Times that they intend for US troops, along with NATO allies, to be out of Afghanistan by July, despite unresolved issues regarding how threats in the region will be handled from afar. “Withdrawing forces is actually a really delicate kind of operation that has risks associated with it,” former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy told the Times.
“There’s a lot they have to work through before the last person steps on the plane — especially when you have allies on the ground who are going to inherit what we are leaving behind,” Flournoy added. When Biden made the announcement in April, Pentagon officials began working to make sure the time between the announcement of the withdrawal and its completion was as short as possible.
Officials said that the Pentagon hoped to avoid a single combat-related death following Biden’s announcement last month, which might elicit public outcry over American troops being put at risk for a lost cause. Officials also realized that there was not much left to physically remove from Afghanistan, as the prior administrations had already cut down troop presence to around 3,500.
Also, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Wednesday. Sullivan emphasized that the United States will remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, as US troops depart the country.
Sullivan and Mohib reaffirmed the enduring strength of the bilateral partnership and committed to continue to consult closely. Sullivan outlined US plans to continue security assistance to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, as well as civilian assistance to help the Afghan people.
The National Security Advisors agreed on the importance of the two governments continuing to work closely together in support of common objectives, including a negotiated political settlement that ends the war in Afghanistan.
Sullivan stressed that the United States will stand firmly with the Afghan people as they seek to achieve a durable and inclusive peace.
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