The United States has deployed extra military resources to protect American and coalition forces withdrawing from Afghanistan. Heavy bombers and fighter jets will be deployed to safeguard troops and civilian contractors. The US and Nato have had a presence in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. US President Joe Biden has set the withdrawal deadline for 11 September – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that sparked the war.
Gunmen shot dead a finance ministry employee and former news anchor in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, provincial officials said on Thursday, the latest in a spate of attacks in recent weeks. Journalists, civil society activists, government officials, and judges are among those targeted in such attacks in recent months, while Washington announced plans last month to pull out all U.S. troops by Sept. 11.
President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday that the United States will fully withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, a symbolic deadline marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, senior administration officials said Tuesday. The troop drawdown will begin before May 1, the deadline for complete withdrawal as outlined in a deal the Trump administration reached with the Taliban. The U.S. says there are roughly 2,500 troops serving in Afghanistan.
The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a decree urging the group’s leaders and commanders to forego taking multiple wives, which he said was inviting “criticism from our enemies”. Muslim men can be permitted by religion to have up to four wives at a time and polygamy is still legal in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other predominantly Muslim nations.
Up to five doctors and health staff working at a high-security Afghan prison holding Taliban inmates were killed on their way to work when a bomb was placed on their car. The assassination with a homemade bomb was the latest in a wave of killings using so-called magnetic or sticky bombs. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing, but the Taliban said they were not involved.
The Pentagon is reducing troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 by Jan. 15, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said Tuesday, a move that the Trump administration has signaled for months. The decision to draw down troops to those levels in Afghanistan, which was initially announced last month by national security adviser Robert O’Brien, comes despite recent remarks from senior military officials that conditions on the ground do not warrant such a move.
The death toll from an attack on Kabul University has risen to at least 35, two government sources said on Tuesday, as students protested over the attack and the country marked a day of mourning. Gunmen barged into the university on Monday, in what was the second attack on an educational institution in the capital in just over a week. Both have been claimed by Islamic State.
All U.S. troops in Afghanistan should be “home by Christmas,” President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, just hours after his national security adviser said Washington would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year. A landmark deal between the United States and the Taliban in February said foreign forces would leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban.
A violent flash flood killed more than 70 people and destroyed hundreds of homes just north of Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, officials said. The floods swept through Parwan province, which borders Kabul, in the early hours of the morning, washing away men, women and children and destroying 300 homes, according to Ministry of Disaster Management spokesman Tamim Azimi.
Afghanistan’s government has started releasing the last 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for long-delayed peace talks. Eighty prisoners were set free Thursday, officials said, some whose crimes include attacks on Afghans and foreigners. The release was a condition to begin negotiations to end 19 years of conflict in the country. Peace talks are expected to start in Qatar within days of the full release.