US, NATO Formally Begin Final Phase of Afghan Withdrawal
The final phase of ending the United States’ “forever war” in Afghanistan formally began Saturday after 20 years as the last US and NATO troops are expected to withdraw by the end of summer.
US President Joe Biden had set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces — about 2,500-3,500 US troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers.
The US is estimated to have spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan in the past two decades, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University, which documents the hidden costs of the US military engagement.
While the pullout was underway before Saturday as well, the White House had sought to put special emphasis on the date due to an agreement the US reached with the Taliban in 2020.
Under the deal, signed in Doha, the US were to withdraw completely by May 1, 2021. The administration of US President Joe Biden said, however, that the troops will be pulled by September 11.
The skies above Kabul and nearby Bagram airbase have been buzzing with more US helicopter activity than usual as the pullout gears up, following the start Thursday of a concurrent NATO withdrawal.