The United States transferred six facilities in Afghanistan to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said. The U.S. will also reportedly be handing over its largest base in Afghanistan, the Bagram Air Base, to Afghan forces as it withdraws from the country.
The Taliban hailed the U.S.’ ongoing withdrawal in a statement Wednesday as a victory scored by jihad, claiming it was similar to the success the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) achieved in expelling Soviet invaders from Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The statement said, “The Muslim nation once waged a holy jihad against the Soviet invasion and offered great sacrifices for the Islamic system and independence of the country.”
“Now, once again, it has brought the struggle against the American occupation, the most lopsided invasion in history of mankind, to victory with the help of Allah,” the Taliban’s statement continued.
For the troop withdrawal, the Pentagon announced it moved nearly “300 C-17 loads” of cargo out of Afghanistan, according to a Monday CENTCOM update. The Defense Logistics Agency was given about 13,000 pieces of equipment for disposal.
The Taliban’s statement celebrated the reports as a victory. They said, “The evacuation of the Bagram military base and other American bases and the ongoing withdrawal of foreign troops is not some random event, rather behind it lies a dignified tale of Jihad, extraordinary sacrifice, valor, epics, and remarkable resistance of our faithful people.” (RELATED: WaPo Runs Op-Ed Criticizing Afghanistan Withdrawal, Doesn’t Disclose Author Is On Defense Contractor Board)
About 30-44% of American withdrawal from the country was completed, according to CENTCOM.
Update on withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan May 31, 2021https://t.co/hokSUBzZfL— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) June 1, 2021
As part of the American exit from Afghanistan, the Afghan Ministry of Defense received control over six facilities from U.S forces, according to the CENTCOM update.
A U.S. defense official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Tuesday that the U.S. will be handing over the Bagram Air Base to Afghan forces, France 24 reported.
Constructed by the Soviets during the 1980s, Bagram was the largest U.S.-controlled base in the country since it was used in 2001 according to the AFP. Bagram housed tens of thousands of soldiers during the peak period of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby refused to confirm the AFP report of Bagram’s transfer, according to The Hill. However, an Afghan security official told AFP that Afghanistan’s defense ministry has established committees to manage the handover of Bagram to Afghan forces and expects it to be complete in about 20 days, France 24 reported.
In April, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that no U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond Sep. 11, 2021, vowing to end “the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan.”
Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense director Thomas Spoehr and others expressed reservations about Biden’s withdrawal plan.
“The nature of the Taliban hasn’t changed,” Blair said in an appearance on CNN.
As American troops have begun to leave Afghanistan, Taliban militants have begun taking over military bases and facilities from Afghan forces.
The Taliban is not the only militant group carrying out attacks in the country as the U.S. quits Afghanistan.
The Central Asian wing of the terrorist group the Islamic State, Islamic State of Iraq, and the Levant – Khorasan Province, has claimed responsibility for recent bombings targeting Afghanistan’s Shiite, Persian-speaking Hazara minority group and for attacks against the Afghan government.