The US and other NATO countries have officially begun to withdraw all troops and equipment from Afghanistan today. This has entered the final phase of the almost twenty years of war.
The approximately 3000 US and 7000 NATO soldiers must be gone by September 11. That decision came from US President Biden, who named May 1 as the start date.
But since his predecessor Donald Trump had already signed an agreement with the Taliban last year to leave by 1 May 2021, the situation is now tense.
“ Breaking this promise paves the way for any counteraction we consider appropriate against the occupiers,” says spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter today. To this threat, he adds that a decision by the Taliban leadership is still waiting.
How realistic the chance of such an attack is, now that the departure of the invasion force is imminent, is hard to say. The Afghan government in Kabul seems to be taking no risks and has extra security for the capital. The White House warns that any attack by Taliban fighters will lead to a counterattack “by all means we have.”
Additional Dutch military
There are currently about 230 Dutch soldiers in the Central Asian country. There were about 150 of them on a training mission for Afghan security forces. In support of the departing troops, another 80 soldiers were sent last week. To the annoyance of the House of Representatives, they had already left before a parliamentary debate was held.
In a few weeks, more than a hundred Afghan military personnel were killed in fighting against the Taliban. The government states that the situation is and will remain under control once the NATO forces have left. But in recent years, the Islamic group has gained more territory. Peace negotiations between the Taliban and the government in Kabul are still stuck.
The US coincided with NATO troops in 2001 in Afghanistan in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks in New York. Since then, the war has cost the lives of some 47,000 Afghan citizens, reports Costs of War research project.
According to the same American research institute, more than 2400 American soldiers have died. Some 51,000 Taliban fighters and 66,000 government soldiers were killed in battles or attacks. A total of 25 Dutch soldiers were killed during missions in Afghanistan.