US President Joe Biden on Friday said that the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan is “on track” but added that it will not be completed within the next few days.
Addressing reporters at the White House, Biden said that some US forces will still be in Afghanistan in September as part of a “rational drawdown with our allies.”
“We’re on track exactly as to where we expected to be. But we just–, I wanted to make sure there was enough, quote, running room that we be–, get–, wouldn’t be able to do it all until September. There will still be some forces left but it is a rational drawdown with our allies and it’s making–, so there’s nothing unusual about it,” Biden said.
Biden was asked about the Afghan government’s ability to maintain after the withdrawal of American forces comes to an end. He said that the United States “was in that war for 20 years.”
“I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government. There’s going to have to be, down the road, more negotiations, I suspect. But I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government,” he said.
“We have worked out an over-the-horizon capacity, that we can be value-added. But the Afghans are going to have to be able to do it themselves with the air force they have, which we are helping them maintain,” Biden added.
At the conference, Biden refused to talk more about Afghanistan despite repeated questions from him by reporters. He replied: “I’m not going to answer any more questions on Afghanistan. Look, it’s Fourth of July.”
This comes as the US military has left the Bagram Airfield in central Afghanistan and has handed it over to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, the Ministry of Defense confirmed on Friday.
At its peak, the airfield, located 69 kilometers north of Kabul in the central province of Parwan, saw more than 100,000 US troops pass through its compound.
The handover of the airfield to Afghan forces shows that last of the roughly 2,500 to 3,500 US troops have left Afghanistan.
Ahead of leaving the base, dozens of trailer trucks loaded with scrap from destroyed vehicles and equipment that belonged to American troops were leaving the Bagram Airfield on a daily basis.
Those who purchase the material say that so far, the scrap has been worth millions of dollars.
Some residents of Bagram said that such equipment should have been handed over to Afghan forces instead of being scrapped by the US military. But US forces have said the equipment will be scrapped so it does not fall into enemy hands.
The Afghan government has said that equipment worth $1 billion will be handed over to the Afghan forces.
Bagram Airfield has been the biggest airbase of the US military in Afghanistan over the last 20 years. US forces started a withdrawal on May 1, a process that is expected to be completed earlier than the given deadline – Sept. 11.