Washington, Jun 25 (AP) The Biden administration is expected to keep around 650 US troops to provide security to its diplomats even after the completion of the withdrawal of major US military forces from Afghanistan.
American officials said that the withdrawal of troops would be largely completed in the next two weeks.
In addition, hundreds of US troops will likely be present at Kabul airport until September, officials said Thursday, where they will assist Turkish forces providing security. These soldiers will be here temporarily until the formal security operation led by Turkey begins.
The withdrawal of a large number of more than 4,000 US troops has accelerated in recent months, for which President Joe Biden has set a deadline of September 11.
However, in the meantime, the Taliban has become more active, raising the fear that the Afghan government and its army will succumb in a few months.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting Paris, cited increasing incidents of violence in Afghanistan to house some 650 troops there and said the Taliban’s attempt to take over Afghanistan was a real threat.
He said the continued US presence would certainly help the Kabul government. Officials have repeatedly said that security at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is critical to keeping US diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan. However, having additional forces stationed there for the next several months would make it extremely difficult for the Biden administration to declare the true end of America’s longest war.
On Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and National Reconciliation High Council Chairman Abdullah Abdullah are due to meet Biden at the White House. He will also meet Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon and may meet other administration officials.
About 650 US troops in Afghanistan will provide other assistance at the US embassy and airport. According to officials, Turkey has said that it is ready to provide security at the airport as long as American forces get help.
US and Turkish military officials are scheduled to meet in Ankara this week to finalize the arrangement. However, on Wednesday, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said no written agreement had yet been reached with Turkey on airport security.