KABUL (AFP) – All United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) troops have left Bagram Air Base, a US defence official told AFP on Friday (July 2), signalling the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan was imminent.
“All coalition forces are off Bagram,” the official – who asked not to be identified – said without specifying when the last US and Nato troops left the base, 50km north of Kabul.
He did not say when the base will be officially handed over to Afghan forces.
The US military and Nato are in the final stages of winding up 20 years of military involvement in Afghanistan, bringing home the remaining troops by a deadline of Sept 11.
The Taleban have launched relentless offensives across Afghanistan in the past two months, gobbling up dozens of districts as Afghan security forces have largely consolidated their power in the vicinity of the country’s major urban areas.
The ability of Afghan forces to maintain control over the vital Bagram airfield will likely prove pivotal to maintaining security in the nearby capital Kabul and keeping pressure on the Taleban.
For decades, the base served as the linchpin for US strategic operations in the rugged country, where the long war against the Taleban and their Al-Qaeda allies was fought with air strikes and resupply missions stemming from the airfield.
Over the years, the mini-city has been visited by hundreds of thousands of US and Nato service members and contractors.