US military mission in Afghanistan to end August 31: Biden

US military mission in Afghanistan to end August 31: Biden
The US military mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31, President Joe Biden confirmed.
3 min read
08 July, 2021
Troops will be pulled out by the end of August [Getty]

US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the US military mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31, nearly 20 years after it began.

The US military has "achieved" its goals in the country - killing Osama bin Laden, degrading Al-Qaeda and preventing more attacks on the United States, Biden said in a White House speech.

"We are ending America's longest war," he said.

"The status quo is not an option," Biden said of staying in the country. "I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan."

"The United States cannot afford to remain tethered to policies created to respond to a world as it was 20 years ago," he said. "We need to meet the threats where they are today."

Biden said the United States "did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build."

"It is the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future."

Biden pledged to continue supporting the Afghan government and security forces and said thousands of Afghan translators who worked for US forces and face threats from the Taliban would be able to find refuge in the United States.

"There is a home for you in the United States, if you choose," he said. "We will stand with you, just as you stood with us."

Biden said he was confident the Afghan armed forces could stand up to the Taliban, who have made strong advances across the country since the beginning of the year.

"I do not trust the Taliban," Biden said, "but I trust the capacity of the Afghan military."

Asked if a Taliban takeover was "inevitable," the president said: "No, it is not."

He flatly rejected comparisons to the US experience in Vietnam.

"The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army," Biden said. "They're not remotely comparable in terms of capability.

"There's going to be no circumstance where you are going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan," he said. "It is not at all comparable."

The insurgents have been gaining territory for weeks but accelerated their thrust as the United States vacated its main Afghan base.

Taliban advances have been especially dramatic in northern provinces where they had long been kept at bay. Stop-start peace talks between the government and insurgents remain inconclusive.

Afghan government forces on Thursday wrested back control of a western provincial capital stormed by the Taliban a day earlier and hundreds of fresh troops have been deployed to the region, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

It said some fighting was continuing on the fringes of Qala-e-Naw, capital of Badghis province, which borders the central Asian country of Turkmenistan.

Insurgents had on Wednesday seized key government buildings in the city including police headquarters as part of a dramatic Taliban advance unfolding as foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan after a 20-year-long intervention.

“The city is fully (back) under our control and we are conducting operations against the Taliban on the outskirts of the city,” Defence Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said.

The ministry said 69 Taliban fighters had been killed in fresh operations on the edge of Qala-e-Naw - the first major provincial capital entered by the Islamist insurgents in their latest offensive.

A large quantity of Taliban arms and ammunition was also seized by government forces, the ministry said on Twitter.

The rest of Badghis province is in Taliban hands. Western security officials say the Taliban have captured more than 100 districts in Afghanistan; the Taliban say they hold over 200 districts in 34 provinces comprising over half the country. Main cities and provincial capitals remain under government control.