US withdrawal from Afghanistan more than 90 percent complete

DM Monitoring

KABUL: The U.S. military has completed more than 90% of its pullout from Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The Central Command said it had officially handed over seven former U.S. bases to Afghan security forces and had evacuated the equivalent of nearly 1,000 C-17 air freighter loads of equipment from the country, ahead of the September deadline to complete the pullout.
On Friday, U.S. forces handed over the sprawling Bagram air base north of Kabul, the main center of U.S. military operations in the country for most of the past two decades of conflict.
Tuesday’s announcement underscored that the majority of the process of withdrawing U.S. military and civilian personnel ordered by President Joe Biden in April had been completed.
At the time of Biden’s order, there were officially 2,500 U.S. troops and 16,000 private contractors.
According to reports, there were also some 1,000 U.S. special forces operating in Afghanistan at the time as well not included in the official tally.
While Biden had set a deadline of September – the 20th anniversary of the Afghan-based al-Qaida attack on the U.S. that sparked the American invasion of the country – the Pentagon has moved quickly to reduce its presence to a minimum this month.
“We expect it to be completed by the end of August,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday after the Bagram handover.
The U.S. is expected to keep a reported 650 or more military personnel in the country to protect the U.S Embassy and diplomats.
Meanwhile, More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers fled into neighboring Tajikistan early Monday to escape clashes with Taliban insurgents who have mounted an aggressive offensive as NATO forces withdraw, according to Tajik border officials.
Citing a statement from Tajikistan’s border authority, Tajik state-run news agency Khovar said Monday that 1,037 Afghan servicemen crossed the border from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province “to save the lives of their personnel.”
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon later Monday ordered the mobilization of 20,000 reserve troops to the border, according to a statement on the presidential website. Tajik authorities have repeatedly said they will not interfere in internal Afghan matters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a critical ally for Rahmon, said Monday that Russian forces in the former Soviet state will help secure the border with Afghanistan if needed. The Afghan Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement on Twitter, Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said “vast areas” of Badakhshan province were cleared of Taliban fighters.