US forces leave Kandahar as drawdown continues

Written by The Frontier Post

KABUL (Agencies): US forces have left Kandahar Airfield, a base that was once one of the largest NATO and coalition installations in the country, Afghan and US officials told Stars and Stripes.

The airfield has been transferred to the Afghan security forces, a US defense official said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

According to Stripes, one official said coalition personnel may remain in Kandahar for “a day or two” to address security concerns. He did not however say exactly when the base was handed over.

Stripes reported that the NATO Resolute Support press office declined to comment on the airfield’s status Thursday while the Afghan Defense Ministry said earlier this week that the handover wouldn’t occur until sometime after Eid-ul-Fitr.

Stripes also reported the US did not hold a handover ceremony at the base, which housed an estimated 30,000 troops and contractors at the height of the war.

According to Stripes, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s 205th Atal Military Corps Khwaja Yahya Alvi, US forces left the base without coordinating with Afghan forces.

He said the move left Afghan officials uncertain whether the US left Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

“The Americans have vacated their bases and they have left,” Alvi said.

An Afghan security official at the Kandahar airport confirmed that US troops left this week without a ceremony, reported Stripes.

“They left in the night” and there are no more US forces in Kandahar, “not at this moment,” said General Faqir Qowahi, commander of the military side of Kandahar Airport.

Massoud Pashtoon, the facility’s director of civil aviation, also told Stars and Stripes that US troops had left.

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