Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO
02 Mai, 2021, 16:55 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
We degraded the terrorist threat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and after 20 years of valor and sacrifice, it's time to bring those troops home. "Last week, Secretary of Defense approved the request from US Central Command for the temporary deployment of additional military assets into the Centcom AOR [area of responsibility] in order to support a safe and deliberate withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan".
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter on Saturday that the passing deadline meant "this violation in principle has opened the way for (Taliban fighters) to take every counter-action it deems appropriate against the occupying forces".
Afghanistan's security forces are expected to come under increasing pressure from the Taliban after the withdrawal if no peace agreement is reached in the interim, according to Afghan watchers.
Under the US-Taliban pact signed in Doha, Qatar, the US agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.
U.S. President Joe Biden and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation announced in mid-April that they will withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by september 11.
They said they will not hesitate to take countermeasures against the United States military and others in the future, suggesting North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops could also be targeted. Defense department officials and diplomats told The Associated Press the withdrawal has involved closing smaller bases over the previous year. Between 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan troops have been killed.
Two of the Western officials said Washington had accepted the Taliban's offer to shield the western military bases from attacks by the likes of Islamic State. On Friday, a huge blast in eastern Logar killed dozens as they broke their fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
Mullah Baradar, the Taliban's deputy political chief, held talks with USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to discuss the peace process on Thursday, another militant spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, said in a Twitter post.
Afghans have paid the highest price since 2001, with 47,245 civilians killed, according to the Costs of War project. Some 300,000 Afghan troops are on the books, although the actual number is believed to be lower.
"We condemn in the strongest terms any attacks deliberately targeting civilians in Afghanistan and call on all parties to respect their obligations under worldwide humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to protection of civilians", the U.S. department of state said in the statement. Last year was the only year United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops did not suffer a loss.
"They provided a layer of cover, nearly like a buffer and ordered their fighters to not injure or kill any foreign soldier in this period", said one western diplomat involved in the process.
News reported that the Defense Department has temporarily provided B-52H Stratofortress aircraft to U.S. Central Command to assist with troop withdrawal. The Pentagon does not track their deaths.
More than 1,140 troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries have been killed. The Taliban, meanwhile, are at their strongest since being ousted in 2001.
"This worldwide aid certainly will not flow if the Taliban were to scrap all the rights and democratic standards that have been established in this country", he added. In the Afghan capital and throughout the country, there is a growing fear that chaos will follow the departure of the last foreign troops.
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