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US withdrawal from Afghanistan passes halfway point

US withdrawal from Afghanistan passes halfway point

The U.S. military has passed the halfway point in withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) estimates that it has “completed greater than 50 percent of the entire retrograde process,” flying out roughly 500 loads of material via cargo aircraft and turning over nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction, the command said in a statement Tuesday.

The United States also has officially handed over six facilities to the Afghan military.

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President BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE in April announced all U.S. troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked America’s longest conflict.

It is unclear how many of the approximately 3,000 U.S. service members in the country at the start of the year are still there, as Centcom, which offers weekly updates on the withdrawal effort, gives only ranges for completion.

Washington has maintained that it will continue to financially support Afghan National Security Forces, but U.S. troops are rapidly leaving despite unresolved issues regarding how threats in the region will be handled from afar.

Centcom head Gen. Frank McKenzie and his staff “are working through what the follow-on contractual arrangements will be made to continue to support” the Afghan National Security Forces, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

Such decisions have not been completed “but rest assured we’re working hard on that,” Kirby added.

In addition, the Biden administration is facing increasingly urgent calls to evacuate Afghans who helped U.S. forces during the conflict and who are at risk of being hunted down and killed by the Taliban after U.S. troops depart.