Saturday, May 1, 2021

Afghan retreat: US starts withdrawing from its longest war | Al Jazeera

The United States formally began withdrawing its last troops from Afghanistan

The United States formally began withdrawing its last troops from Afghanistan on Saturday, bringing its longest war nearer to an end but also heralding an uncertain future for a country in the tightening grip of an emboldened Taliban.

US officials on the ground said the withdrawal is a work in progress – and May 1 is just a continuation – but Washington has made an issue of the date because it is a deadline agreed with the Taliban in 2020 to complete the pullout.

The skies above Kabul and nearby Bagram airbase were buzzing with more US helicopter activity than usual as the withdrawal geared up, following the start on Thursday of a concurrent NATO drawdown.

Afghan security forces were on high alert on Saturday for any possible attacks on retreating American troops.

“The Americans will formally begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan starting May 1 and the Taliban might increase the violence,” Acting Interior Minister Hayatullah Hayat told top police commanders, according to an audio clip given to reporters...

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