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Afghan forces took control of Bagram air base, which was until now the main U.S. operational facility, amid the withdrawal of international coalition troops, the Afghan government confirmed on Friday.
“All coalition troops and Americans departed Bagram Air Base last night. The base was handed over to the ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces),” an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed.
“The ANDSF will protect the base and use it to combat terrorism,” he added.
The latest move by the Americans in the Asian country was also confirmed to Efe by a senior officer of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“All coalition forces have already left Bagram,” the source said on condition of anonymity, while Washington has not officially commented on the withdrawal.
The takeover of the air base, located some 70 kilometers north of Kabul, is part of the transfer process agreed with the United States for the withdrawal of international troops.
As planned, U.S. and NATO forces would hand over military equipment and facilities to Afghanistan prior to the evacuation of their troops from the country, which began on May 1.
With the handover of Bagram, the United States is ending its military presence at its most important airfield in Afghanistan after nearly two decades of conflict, alongside pro-government forces, against the Taliban.
Since the beginning of the American withdrawal on May 1, the Taliban have captured nearly 80 of the 407 districts from government forces, raising serious concerns among Afghans about their intention to end the 20-year war peacefully.
The Afghan war, the longest in U.S. history, began in October 2001 with the mission to hunt down Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the “mastermind” of the September 11 attacks that year and who was killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan in 2011.