Fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban has left more than 100 insurgents dead in the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday as it took control of a US military base in a province. restless.
The US military handed over Camp Antonik in the southern province of Helmand to Afghan forces, a day after officially starting to withdraw its remaining troops from the country.
Taliban and government forces clashed in several provinces, the ministry said, including in the former insurgent stronghold of Kandahar where the US military carried out a “precision strike” on Saturday as it began the final withdrawal. troops.
52 other Taliban fighters were injured in the clashes, the ministry said, without giving details of the losses suffered by government forces.
The Taliban have not commented on the fighting, but both sides are known to exaggerate the losses inflicted on the other.
Fighting on the ground has continued unabated in recent months as peace efforts to end 20 years of conflict have failed.
The U.S. military officially began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from the violence-ravaged country on Saturday, as ordered by President Joe Biden last month.
Afghan officials said all foreign troops were taken to Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan, and from there they would leave for their respective countries.
As part of the ongoing withdrawal, the US military handed over Camp Antonik in Helmand to Afghan forces, the Defense Ministry said.
He said the base would be used by Afghan special forces who have been trained in counterterrorism operations by the US military and NATO.
Photographs of the handover ceremony released by the Afghanistan Department of Defense show US soldiers lowering the US flag at the base and a group of Afghan soldiers subsequently hoisting the national flag.
The US military has ceded several bases to Afghan forces since Washington signed a landmark deal with the Taliban last year that paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
The agreement signed in February 2020 under the administration of former President Donald Trump stipulated that all foreign forces would be withdrawn by May 1, 2021.
Biden announced in April that the last 2,500 remaining U.S. troops would instead be withdrawn before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, not May 1.
But he said their withdrawal would begin on May 1.
As the official withdrawal began on Saturday, the US military said it carried out a “precision strike” after an airfield in Kandahar where it has a base “received ineffective indirect fire” that did not cause no damage.
The attack on the Kandahar base, which has not been claimed by any group, came after the Taliban warned that the US military had violated the 2020 agreement by failing to complete the withdrawal of troops before the May 1.
“This in principle paves the way for our mujahedin to take appropriate measures against the invading forces,” Mohammad Naeem, a spokesperson for the Taliban, told AFP, adding that the group was awaiting orders from its leaders to its future action plan.
Since the US Withdrawal Agreement was concluded, the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but have ruthlessly attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a campaign of terror in urban areas.
© 2021 AFP