After nearly two decades, Bagram Airfield is now under the command of Afghanistan as the U.S. military left the base, which was the main location as America battled the Taliban and sought to find those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Control of Bagram was given to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force, The Associated Press reported.
There was no public ceremony, which some consider a symbolic victory for the Taliban, CNN reported. The Taliban has continued to battle the Afghan military and has taken control of several districts.
“The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan was a reason for continuation of fighting in the country,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mojahid told CNN. “If foreign forces leave Afganistan, Afghans can decide future issues among themselves. We will step forward for the security of the country and our hope for the peace would increase and inshallah (if Allah wills it) we will have development.”
As part of the transition, U.S. Gen. Austin Millier met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the two spoke about “continued U.S. assistance and cooperation with Afghanistan, particularly in supporting the defense and security forces,” the AP reported.
The U.S. has agreed to pay almost $4 billion each year until 2024 to finance the Afghani national security forces.
When the U.S. took control of the location, the base was nothing more than a defunct runway with little electricity in the buildings nearby. The U.S. military transformed it into a working base with stores, gyms and classrooms, CNN reported.
The runway became a two-mile stretch that was frequently used as the starting point for operations across Afghanistan and became home for cargo aircraft, fighter jets and attack helicopters. It also hosted Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump when they visited those members of the military on the front lines, CNN reported.
President Joe Biden had set the deadline to have all forces out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, CBS News reported.
Despite the withdrawal, Miller “still retains all the capabilities and authorities to protect the forces” still in Afghanistan, CBS News reported.
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