The U.S. military says it has completed nearly a quarter of its troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
“The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) estimates that we have completed between 16-25% of the entire process.” said in a statement issued Tuesday by the command center, which oversees operations in Afghanistan.
U.S. Central Command also said it had withdrawn equipment and similar materials with about 160 cargo of C-17 transport aircraft from Afghanistan and returned more than 10,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency.
US President Joe Biden announced last month that US troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, after nearly 20 years of military engagement in the war-torn country.
At the time of President Biden’s announcement, at least 2,500 US troops were part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, which consisted of less than 10,000 troops. The withdrawal of US-led NATO forces has raised fears that the civil war in Afghanistan could intensify and spiral out of control.
Afghan civilians have been killed in a series of attacks since May 1, when the United States officially began withdrawing troops, and the Taliban have expanded their territories across the country, including Baghlan province in the north, Helmand province in the south, Farah province in west and that of Laghman to the east.
It is still unclear whether the Taliban will keep their promise made in February 2020 to sever ties with al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda terrorist group was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed an estimated 3,000 people on American soil.
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the president Tuesday to “reconsider” the decision to step down, as his diplomatic and military teams have reminded him “The risks and consequences they will face.”
“After our withdrawal, there are many reasons to believe that al-Qaeda will regroup in its safe haven. “It is not a strategic move to give up the advantage while the enemy is still on the battlefield.” said Senator McConnell.
US forces killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who orchestrated the 2001 attacks, during an attack on his compound in Abotabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
U.S. defense officials have argued that planning for how the United States will respond to threats from Afghanistan once the withdrawal is complete is ongoing, hinting in recent weeks that there has been progress in securing key agreements. to better position US counterterrorism forces.
But despite some optimism, administration officials have not yet announced any specific measures.
“It’s still work in progress.” said Milancy Harris, Pentagon Assistant Secretary of State for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism, Tuesday in an online discussion.
Senator McConnell noted that Afghanistan’s neighbors like Iran, Pakistan and other Russian-influenced Central Asian countries “They are unlikely to allow a significant number of our anti-terrorist troops to be stationed in their countries.”
Mr. Harris added that the administration is working every day “to make sure we think well and take a really deliberate approach to planning for the withdrawal.”
“My emphasis is on scaling and responsiveness.” said Harris, citing U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan so far as an example of how the military can work effectively to counter terrorist groups.