The US and NATO troops have started to withdraw from Afghanistan, the White House and several alliance officials say, amid a reported surge in Taliban attacks.
Ahlulbayt News Agency: The US and NATO troops have started to withdraw from Afghanistan, the White House and several alliance officials say, amid a reported surge in Taliban attacks.
"NATO Allies decided in mid-April to start the withdrawal of Resolute Support Mission forces by May 1 and this withdrawal has begun. This will be an orderly, coordinated, and deliberate process," a NATO official said.
The White House said earlier Thursday that US troops had started withdrawing, confirming comments made over the weekend by a senior US general.
The US President Joe Biden earlier this month announced the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, four months later than the May 1 deadline agreed to with the Taliban by the previous administration of Donald Trump.
The decision came amid warnings by Taliban militants to resume attacks on US-led forces in the country.
The NATO official threatened a “forceful response” to any attacks by Taliban militants, who have opposed Biden’s postponement of withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan.
Members of the US-led alliance agreed earlier this month to end their 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan after Biden announced his decision to end Washington's longest war in US history.
Biden vowed to complete the troop withdrawal on September 11, 2021 on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that triggered the military invasion of Afghanistan.
Despite its pledge to withdraw, Washington has announced that it will temporarily deploy additional forces to Afghanistan to protect troops as they leave, thereby extending the presence of a US aircraft carrier in the region to support the pullout.
Taliban threaten to forcibly expel US forces
The Taliban have blamed Washington for “shamefully” breaching its agreement with the group on the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, threatening to drive out US troops from the country by force.
"The US shamefully breached the agreement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Americans have failed to adhere to their commitments," said Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem Wardak during an exclusive interview with Press TV on April 15, vowing the group will now forcibly expel the US forces from the country.
"Afghans have been engaged in jihad against the occupiers and defending themselves against foreign forces for 20 years," Wardak emphasized. "We have been fighting to make our country independent. We want to have an independent establishment to protect our people."
The Taliban spokesman further blamed US-led forces for a recent surge in violence across the war-ravaged country, saying, “US bombardments have forced us to expand our operations.”
The group has already threatened to resume attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan if Washington fails to meet its original May 1 withdrawal deadline.
Washington claims it has achieved its aim of stopping Afghanistan from becoming a "haven for terrorists" after “uprooting” al-Qaeda networks, noting that it risks a never-ending military involvement in the Asian country if it does not pull out.