WASHINGTON, April 13. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden intends to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of a series of terror attacks in the US, a senior administration official said at a special briefing on the situation in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
According to the official, the drawdown of US troops will begin by May 1 and will be completed by the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He added that unlike past efforts to set a US withdrawal date, Biden's deadline was not conditions-based.
"After a rigorous policy review [regarding Afghanistan], President Biden has decided to draw down the remaining troops in Afghanistan and finally end the US war there after 20 years. <...> The President has judged that a conditions-based approach, which is then the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever," the official explained.
Withdrawal of NATO troops
The senior administration official added that NATO troops would also follow the same withdrawal timeline. He explained that it is possible that US troops will be withdrawn "well before" September 11, noting that the date was the last possible time when remaining personnel would leave.
The official said the US had communicated to the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) "in no uncertain terms" that attacks on US troops during the withdrawal process would be met with retaliation.
"We will reposition our counterterrorism capabilities retaining significant assets in the region to counter the potential reemergence of a terrorist threat to the homeland from Afghanistan and to hold the Taliban to its commitment to insure Al Qaeda (outlawed in Russia - TASS) does not once again threaten the United States or our interests or our allies," the official said. According to him, the US will concentrate on diplomatic efforts to facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. "There is no military solution to the problems plaguing Afghanistan, and we will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process," he explained.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a regular briefing for journalists said that Biden will address the withdrawal of US forces on April 14. She added that details of the drawdown are being discussed with US allies and partners.
"Endless war" in Afghanistan
On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners in the United States. They crashed two of the planes into New York’s tallest buildings at that time, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The third plane was flown into the Pentagon near Washington. The fourth plane was also bound for the US capital, but crashed outside Shanksville in Pennsylvania. The attacks claimed the lives of 2,997 people. After the investigation, the FBI decided that the involvement of Al-Qaeda was undeniable and in October 2001, the US and the UK launched a joint military operation in Afghanistan aiming to destroy bases of this terrorist organization and to find its leaders Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Last month, the Taliban threatened to renew attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan if the US wouldn’t observe the agreements.
On February 29, 2020, the previous US administration and the Taliban signed a peace deal in Doha. The United States, its allies and the coalition pledged to pull out all troops from Afghanistan within 14 months (by May 1, 2021). The Taliban, for its part, guaranteed that it would not use Afghan soil for actions that posed a threat to the security of the United States and its allies.
The United States has maintained its military presence in Afghanistan since October 2001, it became the longest overseas military campaign in the American history and was dubbed the "endless war." At the peak of the campaign in 2010-2013, the US-led coalition kept more than 150,000 troops in Afghanistan. Most of US and NATO forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014.
The current US administration has warned that it would make further decisions on Afghanistan, including on the withdrawal of US troops from that country, after it reviews the Taliban’s implementation of its obligations under the peace deal. Biden said that the US administration will have difficulties making the May 1 deadline, but currently there are no plans to leave US troops in the country until next year.
On February 14, 2003, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations. The activities of the extremist organizations are outlawed in Russia.