US plans to keep about 650 troops in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Washington will keep around 650 soldiers in Afghanistan to provide security for diplomats after the main American military force completes withdrawal, which is set to be largely done in the next two weeks, according to US officials, TRT World reported.
In addition, several hundred additional American forces will remain at the Kabul airport, potentially until September, to assist Turkish troops providing security, as a temporary move until a more formal Turkey-led security operation is in place.
Turkey has already indicated that it won't send more of its troops to secure Kabul airport.
Overall, officials said the US expects to have American and coalition military command, its leadership and most troops out by July Fourth, or shortly after that, meeting an aspirational deadline that commanders developed months ago.
The departure of the bulk of the more than 4,000 troops that have been in the country in recent months is unfolding well before President Joe Biden’s September 11 deadline for withdrawal.
It comes amid accelerating Taliban battlefield gains, fueling fears that the Afghan government and its military could collapse in a matter of months.
But Afghan forces have been battling Taliban fighters on their own for months after the US shut some of its airbases and handed others Afghanistan's army.
US officials have repeatedly stressed that security at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is a critical requirement to keeping any US diplomatic staff in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration wants to withdraw all its troops from the war-torn country. Leaving additional troops there for several more months complicates Washington's desire to extricate itself from America's longest war until later this fall.