President Biden pushed back the original May deadline, agreed upon under the Trump administration, to Sept. 11, 2021 — leaving roughly 2,500 U.S. troops and 7,000 NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
Though the official removal of U.S. troops from the Middle Eastern nation began earlier this week, the Taliban took to Twitter Saturday to remind security officials that, in their view, the U.S.-Taliban agreement was breached.
“This violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces,” a Taliban spokesperson said Saturday.
“The Mujahidin of IEA will now await what decision the leadership of Islamic Emirate takes in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly, Allah willing,” the spokesman added.
The Pentagon has warned that the remaining U.S. soldiers could be at a higher risk of attack as forces are withdrawn and the Taliban regains power.
The U.S. has been attempting to facilitate a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government before the complete withdrawal of troops is complete – but some security officials remain skeptical, dubbing the effort “moonshot” because of its seemingly lofty goal.
U.S. and NATO troops entered Afghanistan in October 2001 to root out Al-Qaeda perpetrators following the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.
The U.S. is estimated to have spent $2 trillion in Afghanistan alone over the last 20 years, losing over 2,300 American soldiers during the fighting that ensued, along with an estimated over 47,000 Taliban and Afghan civilians, according to the Costs of War project.
While the majority of U.S. lawmakers support bringing an immediate end to the 20-year long battle with the Taliban, some are concerned it could reignite human rights abuses, particularly for Afghan women.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.