United States troops 'to leave Afghanistan by 11 September'

United States troops 'to leave Afghanistan by 11 September'”

Biden had previously hinted that the US was considering delaying the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

The U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies had signed a deal with the Taliban in February a year ago to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban met certain preconditions, including a cessation of violence (the Taliban has repeatedly attacked on civilians and Afghan security forces since) and not turning the country into a haven for terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda.

"New reporting suggests the Biden administration plans to turn tail and abandon the fight in Afghanistan", McConnell said in an afternoon floor speech.

While al-Qaida is not now believed to pose an external threat to the USA, the official said, the country will reposition its counterterrorism assets in the region to monitor and disrupt any potential threats to the homeland. "We believe we certainly can complete that by September, and the question of how long before September depends on conditions as the drawdown unfolds".

For Afghans the fighting will likely grind on. "The Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support", the assessment said.

The Biden official said the withdrawal would begin in May and that the delay was largely logistic, with troops possibly out of Afghanistan well before 11 September.

It's unclear whether that risk diminishes if the US waits until the end of summer to be gone, or what the Taliban might do in the interim (it has resisted attacking USA troops since the agreement).

The administration will, however, miss President Trump's deadline to withdraw troops by May 1, which is the 10-year anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

On Tuesday, the administration official warned that there would be consequences for the Taliban if it attacked US or allied forces during the drawdown.

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"We have long known that there is no military solution to the problems plaguing Afghanistan", a senior administration official said on Tuesday ahead of the announcement, adding that the drawdown would come "no later than 9/11 but potentially a meaningful amount of time before then".

The threat assessment report published Tuesday by the director of national intelligence said the Taliban "is confident it can achieve military victory".

He said Mr Biden concluded any conditional withdrawal would be "a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever".

The Taliban, who enforce an austere brand of Sunni Islam, banned women from school, offices, music and most of daily life during their 1996-2001 rule over much of Afghanistan.

Noting that 40 percent of Afghan schoolchildren are now girls, the official said: "We will do all we can working with the global community to protect those gains, but not with the continuation of military force on the ground".

But as the administration has said, it will not end the government's role in trying to broker a lasting peace and regional stability. Istanbul will host talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government between April 24 and May 4, joined bytalks that Qatar and the United Nations. "And that means putting the full weight of our government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government", the official said.

Biden will make an announcement on Wednesday that all United States forces, in coordination with those of Western allies, will leave other than limited personnel to guard U.S. diplomatic installations, the official said.

"We will take the time we need to execute that, and no more time than that", he said.

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