All U.S. troops have left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as of Friday, according to senior U.S. officials.
While troops still remain in Afghanistan, the withdrawal process is moving much faster than President Joe Biden’s September 11 deadline. The air base was transferred to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force (ANDSF) early Friday, two senior U.S. officials told NBC News. (RELATED: Biden Vows To End ‘Forever War’ In Afghanistan)
Bagram Air Base was the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan with over 100,000 U.S. troops passing through at one point, NBC News added. On Friday, looters reportedly stormed the unoccupied gates upon the U.S. troops’ departure, The Associated Press reported, citing Afghanistan’s district administrator for Bagram, Darwaish Raufi.
“They were stopped and some have been arrested and the rest have been cleared from the base,” Raufi said, noting that the ANDSF had since taken over. “Unfortunately the Americans left without any coordination with Bagram district officials or the governor’s office. Right now our Afghan security forces are in control both inside and outside of the base.”
The looters were able to raid various buildings prior to arrest, the AP reported.
The ANDSF plans to “protect the base and use it to combat terrorism,” Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman for the defense minister, said according to the AP.
The Bagram Air Base houses a hospital, helicopter hangers and a detention facility that closed in 2014, according to NBC News. The Soviet Union originally built the base in the 1950s, and it was largely abandoned and in sore need of repairs when placed in the U.S. and NATO hands years later.
As U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Taliban militants have been busy seizing various military outposts. The situation has sparked concern, with Gen. Austin Miller – America’s top general in Afghanistan – saying a civil war is possible.
“A civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now,” Miller said Tuesday. “That should be of concern to the world.”