Italy completes troop pull-out from Afghanistan after 20 years

Kabul - 50,000 Italian soldiers were deployed after the 9/11 attacks; 53 soldiers died and 723 were injured.


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Published: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 2:11 PM

Italy has completed its troop pull-out from Afghanistan, Rome announced on Wednesday, ending a 20-year deployment there as part of an accelerated withdrawal of NATO forces.

Members of the US-backed alliance agreed in April to wrap up their 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden made the call to end Washington’s longest war.

“Last night, the Italian mission in Afghanistan officially ended,” Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said in a statement, after dozens of soldiers landed at Pisa’s international airport from Herat.

“However, the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan, starting with Italy, does not end here. It will continue in other forms, from strengthening development cooperation to supporting Afghan republican institutions.”

According to the ministry, 50,000 Italian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan over the past 20 years after the 9/11 attacks prompted US and NATO involvement in the country.

Over that period, 53 soldiers died and 723 were injured.

Italy was one of the five countries most involved in Afghanistan along with the United States, Turkey, Britain and Germany as part of “Resolute Support.”

This NATO-led non-combat mission aimed to train Afghan forces into ensuring their country’s security after the departure of foreign forces.

Germany announced Tuesday that all its troops had left Afghanistan as the largest pull-out, that of the United States, is ongoing.

The withdrawal has fuelled fears the Taleban could regain power in the country.

Rome has begun the process of bringing to Italy those Afghan citizens who helped Italian forces during the deployment. The army has identified 270 eligible people, while studying the cases of another 400.

Eighty-two Afghans, most of them interpreters and their families, arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on June 14.


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