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The US military will begin a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan starting on May 1, and complete the process by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Biden announced Wednesday, saying it was well past time to end America’s “forever war.”
In the 16-minute, midday White House address, Biden said that the sprawling military operation was undertaken with just intentions, but has long since completed its mission.
“We went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out Al Qaeda, to prevent future terror attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan,” he said. “Our objective was clear, our cause was just, our NATO partners and allies rallied beside us.
“I said, along with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be. That’s exactly what we did. And we got him,” he continued. “That was 10 years ago. … We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since.”
Biden said that now, finally, it was time for the approximately 2,500 American troops still on the ground in Afghanistan to come home — if slightly behind former President Donald Trump’s timeline of a full withdrawal by May 1.
“The United States will begin our final withdrawal — begin it — on May 1 this year,” he said. “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We will do it responsibly, deliberately and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners, who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do.
“US troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11.”
Biden closed by noting that the operation, while started justly, was “never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.”
“We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead, and Al Qaeda is degraded,” he said. “It is time to end the forever war.”
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