Foreign troops under NATO command will withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with a US pull-out by 11 September, NATO allies agreed on Wednesday (14 April), pledging to mirror American plans to start removing troops on 1 May after two decades of war.

Iran PressEurope: Around 7,000 non-US forces from mainly NATO countries, also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, but still rely on American air support, planning and leadership for their training mission.

According to the NATO website, EU members Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden have troops in Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said the decision was tough.

“This is not an easy decision, and it entails risks. As I said for many months, we face a dilemma. Because the alternative to leaving in an orderly fashion is to be prepared for a long-term, open-ended military commitment with potentially more NATO troops,” Stoltenberg told a news conference.

The US President Joe Biden has pushed back the departure by just over four months, in contrast to the previous planned full exit date of 1 May set by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The new deadline would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the US in 2001. 219