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Pentagon says Bagram withdrawal was discussed with Afghan leaders

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(Last Updated On: July 7, 2021)

Dispelling reports that the Afghan leadership had not been informed about the final withdrawal of US troops from Bagram Airfield last week, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said there had been coordination with Afghan leaders, both in government as well as in the Afghan security forces, about the eventual turnover of the base.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Kirby said: “As you know, it was the seventh and the final base that we turned over to the Afghan National Security Forces. You don’t do that in a vacuum and this wasn’t done in a vacuum.

“I can’t speak for the level of information that went down the Afghan chain of command but I can tell you that Afghan leaders, civilian and military, were appropriately coordinated with and briefed about the turnover of Bagram Air Base.

“The specific conversation and coordination about the turnover of Bagram, the final conversations occurred about 48 hours prior.”

He said however that “obviously, for operational security reasons, we didn’t go into the exact hour at which all U.S. forces would leave Bagram.”

This comes after reports emerged this week that the U.S. forces flew out of Bagram in the early hours of Saturday morning after switching off the lights and not informing anyone.

A walkthrough of the base on Monday showed the deserted facility littered with discarded equipment including hundreds of civilian and armored vehicles.

Kirby stated however that due to security concerns U.S. forces are taking precautions. “We have had to operate under the assumption that this drawdown could be contested at any time. And so we’re very careful about what we say and how — how much detail we provide out there, but there was coordination.”

He also said “it’s not like the closure or the turnover of Bagram was at — at all in dispute throughout this drawdown process. Everybody knew that was happening and — and there was general understanding about roughly when. Again, as we got closer, more detail was provided to — to Afghan leaders.

He acknowledged that there had been some vehicles left behind and some turned over to Afghan officials.

“Our commitment to the future of a stable and secure Afghanistan has not changed. It’s just going to look different. We’re just not going to be on the ground the way we are now,” he said.

On the issue of over-the-horizon counterterrorism, Kirby said “it’s difficult but it’s doable”.

He told members of the press “I don’t have a breakdown for you right now what that’s going to look like. But, again, it’s important to remember we already have an over-the-horizon counterterrorism capability that the — a carrier strike group in the region, we’ve got facilities throughout the Middle East that have and will continue to be of value in this regard so we have that capability”.

Kirby also said many of the contractors are still in Afghanistan and providing ongoing support to the Afghans and the Afghan Air Force.
“We are actively working on ways in which that contract support can be done remotely or virtually or even physically outside the country,” he said.

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Bayat Foundation in Ghazni to help needy families

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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2021)

The Bayat Foundation continues to help vulnerable families across Afghanistan and this week distributed hundreds of food parcels to people in central Ghazni province.

The foundation’s officials said they had so far distributed essential food supplies to deserving people in Herat, Balkh, Khost, Kunduz, Kandahar, and Bamiyan provinces.

Haji Mohammad Ismail, deputy head of the Bayat Foundation, stated: “Through its continued assistance, the Bayat Foundation was in Ghazni [to distribute aid] and further assistance will be distributed in other provinces soon.”

The foundation said it will do its best to reach vulnerable families during winter.

Grateful recipients of the food aid thanked the Bayat Foundation and said the packages were badly needed.

“We are thankful to the Bayat Foundation that provided us with foodstuff such are flour, rice, and oil and we call for further assistance,” one of the recipients said.

Another recipient added: “I am pleased that the Bayat Foundation is helping needy people during this cold winter.”

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UN seeks record $41 billion for aid to hotspots including Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2021)

The United Nations appealed on Thursday for $41 billion to provide life-saving assistance next year to a record 183 million people worldwide caught up in conflict and poverty, led by a tripling of its programme in Afghanistan.

Famine remains a “terrifying prospect” for 45 million people living in 43 countries, as extreme weather caused by climate change reduces food supplies, it said in the annual appeal reflecting a 17% rise in annual funding needs.

“The drivers of needs are ones which are familiar to all of us. Tragically, it includes protracted conflicts, political instability, failing economies… the climate crisis, not a new crisis, but one which urges more attention and of course the Covid-19 pandemic,” UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told a news briefing on Wednesday.

In a report to donors, the world body said: “Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic.”

Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan are the five major crises requiring the most funding, topped by $4.5 billion sought for Afghanistan where “needs are skyrocketing”, it said.

In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people require life-saving assistance to prevent catastrophe, a dramatic increase driven by political tumult, repeated economic shocks, and the severe food insecurity caused by the worst drought in 27 years, Reuters reported.

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Four wounded in Kabul blast

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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2021)

The Emergency Hospital in Kabul has confirmed four people were wounded in an IED explosion in Salim Karwan square in PD4 around midday Thursday.

The Emergency Hospital said in a tweet that the injured were taken to the hospital from the scene of the explosion.

The hospital said a child was among the injured adding the incident was caused by a magnetic IED attached to a vehicle.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Interior Ministry spokesman Saeed Khosti, however, said the incident was caused by an IED placed in a pot. He also claimed that there were no casualties in the blast.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two days ago, Kabul witnessed another explosion. The blast, which targeted an IEA vehicle, wounded five people, including members of the IEA.

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