UK troops to "drawdown" from Afghanistan as US forces plan to leave

14 April 2021, 23:25 | Updated: 15 April 2021, 08:50

By Will Taylor

British troops will undergo a "drawdown" in Afghanistan after the US announced it wants to bring its forces out by the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace insisted any assaults on troops before they leave will be met with a "forceful response" and said Afghans deserved peace and stability.

The 2,500 American military personnel will remain past next month’s deadline negotiated by Donald Trump's administration with the Taliban, but Nato forces will leave from May 1.

President Joe Biden branded it "America’s longest war".

Britain has lost 454 lives in Afghanistan since operations began in October 2001.

Read more: US troops to leave Afghanistan before September 11 anniversary

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Allied troops have tried to build up Afghanistan's ability to fight insurgents
Allied troops have tried to build up Afghanistan's ability to fight insurgents. Picture: Sgt Rob Knight/MoD/PA Media

Mr Wallace said: "The people of Afghanistan deserve a peaceful and stable future.

"As we drawdown, the security of our people currently serving in Afghanistan remains our priority and we have been clear that attacks on Allied troops will be met with a forceful response.

"The British public and our Armed Forces community, both serving and veterans, will have lasting memories of our time in Afghanistan.

"Most importantly we must remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, who will never be forgotten."

The UK’s announcement comes as President Biden confirmed that the US military will depart by September.

That month will mark two decades since the World Trade Centre and Pentagon were attacked by Al-Qaida.

Joe Biden called the conflict America's longest war
Joe Biden called the conflict America's longest war. Picture: PA

The US and allies overthrew the Taliban after it accused them of harbouring terrorists, and remained to fight their insurgency to prevent extremists using the country as a base to launch more attacks.

The focus since has been on building up Afghanistan's ability to combat insurgency and the US said it will continue to support peace talks between the Government and the Taliban.

"We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result," President Biden says in excerpts of a speech to the nation.

"I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth."