False - June 14, 2021

Reports that US forces preparing to return to Afghanistan unproven

KABUL (Pajhwok): Reports published by some media outlets are unproven citing the Pentagon that US forces are preparing to return to Afghanistan.

According to the US and the Taliban Peace Agreement, all foreign troops should have left Afghanistan by May 01 but US and NATO delayed troop’s withdrawal until September 11. The Pentagon has recently announced completion of 50 percent of its troop’s pullout from Afghanistan.

New.in-24 reported on June 12 reported that the US military has not yet left Afghanistan but is already preparing its return, in case jihadists from Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group launch an attack on the United States, quoting a senior official in the US Department of Defence.

In a Congress committee hearing, Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, confirmed that intelligence lessons are being learned in case there is a need to return. His answer came in reply to a question by Mike Waltz, a member of the US House of Representatives and a former Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan.

‘There is a strong likelihood that we may have to go back,’ said Waltz. ‘Al Qaeda will resurge in the wake of Taliban gains and does intend to attack the United States again if given the opportunity….Where are the 20 years of operational data and intelligence going to go? Who is in charge of it?’ he added. They must be ‘accessible to the future patrol leader who will be ordered to return to a valley where we went 5, 7 or 10 years ago.’

Hasht-e-Subh Newspaper also published a similar report.

Fact Check:

US Kabul Embassy Spokesperson Hilary Fuller Renner without acknowledging or rejected the return of US forces to Afghanistan said: “As President Biden said, the United States will reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and substantial assets to prevent reemergence of terrorist threats, in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
Fighting the scourge of terrorism is a global effort.  We will continue to engage partners, allies, and key states around the world on how best to address it. Beyond that, we have nothing further to share regarding our deliberations on counterterrorism scenarios.”

The Taliban have not reacted to the development but the group earlier regarding delayed pull out of foreign forces said that it was the violation of Doha Agreement and warned of taking every kind of step in violation to the agreement.

Turkish Defence Minister HulusiEkar had recently said that Turkish forces could remain in Afghanistan to protect the Kabul Airport provided that allies ensure logistic, financial and political support.

The Taliban opposed Turkish offer and said: “The presence of foreign forces under every name from any country is not acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and to the Islamic Emirate.”

Outcome: US defence sources confirm US forces making contingency plans to return to Afghanistan. The US embassy in Kabul also acknowledged US forces reorganising counter-terrorism capability to counter terrorist threats in Afghanistan or in the region.

Verdict: Unproven

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