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US, UK Troops Airlifted From Afghanistan
International

US, UK Troops Airlifted From Afghanistan

A fleet of planes and helicopters airlifted the last U.S. and British forces from a key base in southern Afghanistan on Monday, a day after the international coalition closed the massive facility and handed it over to the Afghan military.
The troops’ withdrawal and base closure in the province of Helmand is one of the largest operations in the winding down of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the toppling of the radical, Islamist Taliban regime.
Monday’s withdrawal operation passed off peacefully as part of a planned drawdown, though there was a sense of deja vu among some soldiers, Reuters reported.
 The NATO-led international force is now shifting to a reduced role of support as Afghanistan’s newly trained army and police take over the fight against a resurgent Taliban.
 Casualties among both civilians and Afghan security forces are near all-time highs this year, with hundreds killed and wounded each month in the conflict.
The withdrawal of the remaining U.S. and British troops from the combined base of Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion was carried out over 24 hours of near-continuous flights back and forth between Helmand and Kandahar Air Field, the aviation hub for southern Afghanistan.
For the U.S. Marines and British forces leaving Helmand, the airlift was the first stop on the way home – all of them will be flown out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, and some within days.
 Helmand was a major focus of a 2010 troops surge to wrest control back from the Taliban. At its height, the NATO-led force had some 140,000 military personnel from nearly 50 nations.

 

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