US military mission in Afghanistan to end on 31 August, Biden says

Photo: AP

The US military mission in Afghanistan will end on 31 August, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday. Nearly 20 years after it invaded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the US military has “achieved” its goals in the country, killing Osama bin Laden, degrading Al-Qaeda and preventing more attacks on the United States, Biden said in a White House speech, AFP reported.

“We are ending America’s longest war,” Biden said. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan.”

Biden noted the United States “did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build” and that the Afghan people alone should determine their future.

But he acknowledged the uncertainty about what that future would look like. Asked if a Taliban takeover was “inevitable,” the president said: “No, it is not.”

“I do not trust the Taliban,” Biden said, “but I trust the capacity of the And he flatly rejected comparisons with the US experience in Vietnam. “The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army,” Biden said. “They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.”

Biden also pledged to continue supporting the Afghan government and security forces and said thousands of Afghan translators who worked for US forces and face threats from the Taliban would be able to find refuge in the United States.

Biden’s address came as Afghan commandos battled the Taliban for control of a provincial capital in the most brazen assault by the militants since Washington stepped up its troop withdrawal.

Since the US ramped up its withdrawal, which the Pentagon has said is 90% complete, the Taliban have launched a blistering campaign to capture new territory, and fears are mounting that Afghan forces will collapse without vital American air support.

President Ashraf Ghani said the government had the capacity to handle the situation, but admitted difficulties lay ahead. “What we are witnessing is one of the most complicated stages of the transition,” he said in a speech in Kabul.

In London, PM Boris Johnson said most British troops had left Afghanistan, as part of a NATO withdrawal in parallel to the US pullout.

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