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International - September 28, 2021

Afghanistan: US General Mark Milley to face questions

Afghanistan: US General Mark Milley to face questions

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The top US general and the secretary of defence are to be questioned in Congress over the military withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

US troops had to accelerate their withdrawal – originally due to be completed 31 August – after Kabul fell to the Taliban on the 15th.

There were chaotic scenes at Kabul Airport as foreign powers sought to get their citizens home and thousands of desperate Afghans begged for rescue.

A suicide attack killed 182 people.

Thirteen US service personnel and at least 169 Afghans were killed when a bomber blew himself up at a gate to the airport on 26 August.

Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will speak before the armed services committees of the Senate on Tuesday, and the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Another US general, Kenneth McKenzie, will also appear. As head of US Central Command, he oversaw the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

US troops first entered Afghanistan in late 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. By the time they left, the US had spent about $985bn (£724bn) and deployed tens of thousands of troops, peaking at 110,000 in 2011.

In the weeks between the fall of Kabul and the withdrawal deadline of 31 August, the US evacuated its remaining 4,000 troops. It is also taking about 50,000 Afghan refugees who were airlifted out of Kabul.

As many as 20 people died in the crowds which gathered at the airport in the days after the Taliban takeover.

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