America’s President Joe Biden will withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before this year’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, finally ending America’s longest war despite mounting fears of a Taliban victory, US Officials said Tuesday.
The decision which is expected to be announced Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.
Biden’s decision came as Turkey announced an international peace conference on Afghanistan in hopes of reaching an agreement that brings stability to a nation battered by nearly 40 years of war. But the Taliban, newly emboldened, said they would boycott the conference.
According to Washington Post, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them NATO troops.
In the end, Biden decided to withdrawal all US Troops other than limited US personnel to guard the US installations including the imposing embassy in Kabul, a senior official said.
“The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Under the Trump administration’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban, all US troops would leave by May 2021 in return for the insurgents’ promise not to back Al-Qaeda and other foreign extremists -– the original reason for the 2001 invasion.
The Biden official said the withdrawal would begin in May and that the delay was largely logistical, with troops possibly out of Afghanistan well before September 11.
The official warned the Taliban — who are observing a truce with US but not with Afghan forces — not to strike coalition forces as they leave, saying that in response to any attack “we will hit back hard.”