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IPFS News Link • Afghanistan

Final US soldiers pack up and prepare to leave Bagram Air Base after defending...

• By ROSS IBBETSON and LAUREN LEWIS

For close to 20 years, Bagram Airfield was the heart of American military power in Afghanistan, a sprawling mini-city behind fences and blast walls just an hour's drive north of Kabul. 

It was initially a symbol of the US drive to avenge the 9/11 attacks and then of its struggle for a way through the ensuing war with the Taliban. 

Now, in just a matter of days, the last US soldiers will have departed Bagram. 

They are leaving what probably everyone connected to the base - whether American or Afghan - considers a strained legacy.  

US Central Command said last week it is well past 50 per cent packing up Bagram and the rest is going fast. American officials have said the entire pullout of US troops will most likely be completely finished by July 4.

The Afghan military will then take over Bagram as part of its continuing fight against the Taliban - and against what many in the country fear will be a new eruption of chaos. 

As the withdrawal date for the US troops approaches, thousands of Afghan translators now face being left stranded because they haven't yet been accepted for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) into America. 

Up to 18,000 translators and interpreters are under constant fear of deadly attacks from the Taliban and have been run out of their homes because of their support for the American government over the last 20 years.

It has cost the US military 2,312 lives and $816bn, according to the Department of Defense.


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