US forces left one of their biggest bases in Afghanistan--in Logar province--and handed it over to Afghan forces, local officials said. The base once hosted at least 18,000 troops. It is located 76 miles south of Kabul in Logar province.
The last US forces numbered 300 in FOB (forward operating base) Shank, and withdrew last week, according to local officials. The base, in addition to other facilities, has an airfield and is eight kilometers long and three kilometers wide. It hosted around 18,000 troops between 2006 and 2014.
There were at least 600 troops in the base ahead of the US-Taliban deal in February, local officials said, adding that the number was reduced to 300 after the agreement was signed.
“They (foreign forces) helped us with training. They did not help us in combat. We conducted our operations independently,” said Khan Agha Dilawar, head of an Afghan commando unit.
“They (foreign forces) organize their air support for us through Bagram (airfield) and through Kabul. We will not face any problems in this respect. We are in contact with them and they will provide us air support,” said Sayed Yasin Sadad, Commander of the 4th Regiment of the Afghan Army.
Logar residents had different views on the withdrawal of the US forces from the province.
“Hopelessness is not good. We hope that violence will end with the withdrawal of the forces,” said Mohammad Sarwar Sarhadi, a Logar resident.
“Afghan security forces should boost their coordination. If so, they will succeed,” said Mohammad Jawad Shirzad, a Logar resident.
Based on the US-Taliban deal, the withdrawal of foreign forces should be completed by May 2021, but a recent US defense bill would call for a review of the pullout of US forces, regardless of the directives of the Trump Administration or the terms of the US-Taliban deal.
US officials have said that the decision about the withdrawal from Afghanistan was made ahead of the approval of the bill by the US congress.
US forces left Logar as Afghan forces have started operations to secure parts of the province in recent weeks.
Logar is a province close to Kabul that has often witnessed a lack of security.