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104 cargo loads of US military equipment flown out of Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 12, 2021)

US forces in Afghanistan have moved about 104 cargo loads of equipment out of the country so far and have turned over more than 1,800 items of gear for destruction, US Central Command said on Tuesday.

CENTCOM said in a statement that since President Joe Biden’s decision to fully withdraw all military personnel from Afghanistan “the US has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 104 C-17 [military cargo plane] loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned over more than 1,800 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction.”

CENTCOM stated the US has also officially handed over one facility to the Afghan National Army.

The statement also noted that CENTCOM estimates it has completed between six to 12 percent of the entire retrograde process.

The statement noted: “For operational security reasons we will only be providing an approximate range of the percentage of the exit process that is complete. As the responsible and orderly exit continues, the size of the range will increase to preserve operational security.

“This update includes the progress on the retrograde of troops and equipment from Afghanistan, the turning over of equipment and facilities to the ANDSF, as well as the destruction of some equipment.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the United States has added capabilities in the nation to help shield retrograde operations and provide force protection.

Kirby also said CENTCOM has not released the number of troops that remain in Afghanistan because it would provide “a level of situational awareness for the Taliban.”

“We have an obligation to keep our people safe, particularly in a retrograde that could be opposed,” Kirby said. “We have to assume that this is going to be an opposed retrograde. And if we assumed anything less, it would be irresponsible of us.”

However, the US is still seeking a diplomatic peace settlement in Afghanistan.

Kirby said the US Defense Department is committed to working with US State Department personnel even as the withdrawal continues. “We still support, and want to see, a political end of this war and to see that the Taliban and the Afghan government work this out,” he said.

DOD will continue a relationship with the Afghan government after the retrograde is finished. “There are very active discussions going on now inside the department to better define what over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities we will be able to avail ourselves of,” Kirby said.

Before the drawdown began, there were about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan and a further 7,000 NATO troops.

However, the Pentagon deployed several hundred Army Rangers and 12 F-18 attack planes to Afghanistan last week to assist with the drawdown.

Also helping to protect the withdrawing troops are six B-52 bombers based in Qatar and the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Middle East.

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NATO to provide provisional funding to help run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO has not yet decided on who would run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Monday night. 

Stoltenberg said however that Turkey would play a “key role” in running the airport and that NATO is committed to providing transitional funding for the key facility. 

This comes after Turkey offered to run and guard the airport after the withdrawal of troops. 

However, the Taliban issued a warning and said such a move would be a “mistake” and that any country doing so would be considered invaders. 

“The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for the Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate (Taliban),” the group cautioned in a statement.

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies, and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.   

In a communique issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the NATO Summit, it was stated that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure the continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the communique read.  

“We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners. We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

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Khalilzad in Kazakhstan to discuss Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan on Sunday to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan media reports stated the two discussed prospects for the development of the Kazakh-US relations in the context of ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan especially once foreign troops have withdrawn.

Reports stated Khalilzad and Tokayev also discussed the coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts for the stabilization and socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Tokayev said: “This year we are marking the 30th anniversary of our Independence. During this period, we managed to build relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

“The United States is a strong partner of Kazakhstan. We are good partners in so many areas, including trade and economic cooperation,” he said.

Tokayev also said the Afghan issue was always a focal point in his talks with the leaders of Afghanistan, Russia, China, Central Asian states and international organizations.

Kazakh media reported that during the meeting, Khalilzad shared his assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan, and the vision of American diplomacy regarding the further development of the intra-Afghan peace process.

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Taliban ‘paths’ into districts will become mass graveyards: Saleh

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said Monday the Taliban have advanced in a number of areas but warned that the narrow paths into the districts will be turned into a mass graveyard for the militants.

In a statement issued on Monday, Saleh said: “Those who know how to fight with the Taliban, know that this narrow line will become the mass graveyard of this group of terror and ignorance.”

The statement comes as the Taliban militants have captured at least 30 districts since May 1.

In the most recent incidents, the Sayad district in Sar-e-Pul province; the Awba district in Herat province; and the Khanabad district in Kunduz province fell to the insurgents in the past 24 hours.

Provincial sources have told Ariana News that through government’s neglect, at least 18 more districts are on the verge of collapse.

Saleh, meanwhile, stated that the Taliban militants have not changed the way they treat the people of Afghanistan.

“Do not be deceived by [Taliban’s] propaganda. Resisting the Taliban is defending human values and dignity. Taliban has no message for the people of this country other than demanding obedience as a slave life,” Saleh said.

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