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US forces leave largest air base in Afghanistan – Pentagon

Washington: The US has handed over control of the Bagram Air Base outside of Kabul to Afghan forces and withdrawn strike capabilities as part of the ongoing drawdown of forces from the country, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.

“There are some aviation elements that we retained at the airport, but in terms of the kinds of strike capabilities that I think you’re talking about, those are no longer in Afghanistan,” Kirby said in response to a question about whether the US still has air assets at the base.

The base, which was the largest in the country, has hosted US forces since the beginning of the conflict in 2001. It is also home to the Parwan Detention Facility, which is the main facility used to hold individuals detained by US forces in Afghanistan.

“This change in leadership structure, and the turnover today of Bagram Air Base to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are key milestones in our drawdown process,” the spokesman added.

A Taliban spokesperson praised the move, saying that it is a positive step in the interest of both the US and Afghanistan that will help achieve peace and security in the country.

The move is part of an ongoing retrograde of US forces from the country at the direction of President Joe Biden. The withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of August, with the deadline set for September 11 of this year – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that sparked the conflict.

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