Over 1,000 Afghan troops flee Taliban as U.S. embarks on final withdrawal stage

Over 1000 Afghan security personnel were reportedly forced to retreat into Tajikistan over the weekend after Taliban fighters advanced in Northern Afghanistan.

The escalation comes as the United States has been drawing down troops from Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been fighting for nearly two decades following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“The Taliban cut off all the roads and these people had nowhere to go but to cross the border,” a senior Afghan official told Reuters on Monday.

The United States vacated Bagram Airfield, its biggest airbase in Afghanistan, late last week—a move toward the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces. NATO also has withdrawn forces, and is expected to complete the process before the U.S. has completely left Afghanistan.

Despite the drawn down, around 650 American troops will remain in the country to guard the United States Embassy in Kabul and assist in protecting the Kabul International Airport.

Afghanistan-based TOLOnews reported Sunday that nine districts in the country were captured by the Taliban in just 24 hours.

“The operations we had in the last 24 hours were in Laghman, Nijrab district in Kapisa and Shinwari in Parwan, and in Ghazni—where we inflicted casualties on the enemy,” Special Forces commander Major Gen. Hibatullah Alizai told TOLO.

Despite the recent clashes and retreat, Reuters reported that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insists the country’s security forces are fully capable of handling the conflict.

U.S. President Joe Biden has set out to have troops out of Afghanistan this year by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Our troops may be leaving, but support for Afghanistan is not ending,” Biden said during a public address from the White House two weeks ago.

Biden has long advocated for troop withdrawal from America’s longest-running war, which was prompted as the United States sought Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, last year hashed out an agreement with the Taliban to remove all American troops by May 1, but Biden’s team signaled for weeks it would take longer than that before announcing the September 11 target date.

However, it is expected the U.S. will complete the withdrawal well before the deadline.

U.S. Army General Austin Scott Miller, the U.S.’s top general in Afghanistan, will stay in the country to oversee the complete transfer of command to the Afghan forces.

“Our mission in Afghanistan continues,” Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby told reporters Friday. “We continue to execute a safe, orderly draw down in accordance with the president’s guidance for U.S. forces to be out of Afghanistan by the end of August.”

As part of the negotiation with the Trump administration, the Taliban halted attacks on American forces, though it continues to stake claim over new territory and attack Afghanistan’s government and security installations.

TOLO reported a group of 20 Taliban fighters attacked a border police outpost on Saturday—a day after the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Bagram Airfield.

In this picture taken on June 17, 2021, a man holds a teddy bear as people look for useable items at a junkyard near the Bagram Air Base in Bagram. – The Pentagon is evacuating Bagram airbase as part of its plan to withdraw all forces by this year’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US, taking military gear home or given to Afghan security forces, but tons of civilian equipment must be left behind.
Adek BERRY / AFP/Getty Images

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