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President Biden plans to remove all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, a senior defense official confirmed to Fox News.
If that happens, that would mean that all American forces will be out of the country by the 20th anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The president will make official remarks on the plans on Wednesday.
The Trump administration had aimed to have all American forces out of Afghanistan, where the Taliban retains significant power, by May 1, if certain conditions in its negotiations with the Taliban were met. But with just more than two weeks until that deadline, it is being pushed back again.
As the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden approaches on May 1st, senior U.S. military leaders have long warned a similar raid would be much more difficult without U.S. military troops based in Afghanistan. The Navy SEAL assault force launched from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan not far from the border with Pakistan
The United States has been aiming to draw down its military presence in the Middle East for years, and it is unclear if there are conditions that could delay the drawdown of American forces from Afghanistan before the Biden administration’s target date.
The news was first reported by the Washington Post.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., applauded Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said doing so is premature.
“I applaud President Biden for achieving an impossibility here in Washington: ending a forever war,” Khanna said, even as Biden was technically extending the deadline to withdraw troops. “It is an act of extraordinary political courage and vision. After 20 years, thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars spent, we are finally bringing home our troops from Afghanistan.”
“Precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake. It is a retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished, an abdication of American leadership,” McConnell said.
A person familiar with the deliberations told the Washington Post that if the U.S. pushed back its May 1 withdrawal deadline without a clear exit plan by another time “we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest … We’re going to zero troops by September.”
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Biden had previously hinted that the U.S. was considering delaying the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline,” Biden said in late March. “Just in terms of tactical reasons, it’s hard to get those troops out.”
“And if we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way,” he added.
Fox News’ Jason Donner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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