British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of his country’s military deployment in Afghanistan. “All British troops who participated in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan are returning home,” Johnson said, according to British media in parliament.
The British Army has been in Afghanistan since 2001. More than 450 British soldiers were killed fighting the radical Islamist Taliban and other extremist groups. The prime minister declined to say when the last soldiers will return for security reasons. However, he did confirm that “the majority of our people have already left”.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan is sensitive because the Taliban are on the rise again. According to the BBC, Johnson said there would “never be a perfect time” to bring the British army back. However, he also stated that it was never the intention that the military would remain in the country permanently.
The departure of the last 750 British soldiers has been happening relatively silently for weeks, writes The Guardian. Little publicity has been given to the ceremonies that accompany such a withdrawal. According to newspaper sources, the Americans have asked to leave in silence for security reasons.
The United States itself has said it wants to leave Afghanistan by September 11, exactly 20 years after the major attacks in the US. They have also already withdrawn most of their troops. The Department of Defense (Pentagon) says that the operation is “90 percent” complete. The last Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan returned at the end of June.
Not all western soldiers are leaving Afghanistan. Soldiers remain behind to protect diplomats in the capital Kabul. According to The Guardian, the United Kingdom also contributes to that force, which the Americans lead. The British Ministry of Defense would not say exactly how many soldiers are involved.