AFGHANISTAN. Kabul: The United States will likely increase the presence of its troops in Afghanistan temporarily over the coming weeks and months to fulfill President Joe Biden’s order to safely withdraw all forces from the country by Sept. 11, the Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference, Kirby did not elaborate any further details on the nature of the increase in US troops but drew a comparison to 2011 when the United States pulled out its troops from Iraq.
Complete withdrawal by September 2021
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the full withdrawal of their troops would start from May 1, and will end by September 11 at the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on the US, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan by the US-led coalition in 2001.
Hours after Biden’s announcement, Britain’s Army chief General Sir Nick Carter has said it was “not a decision we hoped for” but added that the UK respected the stance taken by the new administration.
Former US national security adviser HR McMaster said the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan as the Taliban continues its murderous attacks on Afghan civilians and security forces is a moral travesty and a strategic disaster.
“We are abandoning courageous Afghans on a modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization,” he said in a tweet on Friday.
Reactions among Afghan warring parties
Meanwhile, The Taliban has not welcomed the decision and said on Thursday the US was in breach of its Doha agreement which calls for all the foreign troops to leave the country by May 1, 2021.
The group warned that it will retaliate if the US does not follow. And it will not attend any conference on Afghan peace negotiations till the full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
“If the agreement is breached and foreign forces fail to exit our country on the specified date, problems will certainly be compounded and those (who) failed to comply with the agreement will be held liable, ” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.
In Kabul, however, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s reacted to Biden’s withdrawal announcement In an online event, International Ganjawai Center on Friday. Ghani said “it’s not new to him”, and that the Afghans should defend their countries.