Afghan President Ashraf Ghani toured Bagram Airfield on Friday, one week after the major facility was formally handed over to Kabul's jurisdiction after the withdrawal of US forces.
Local media released photos of the visit provided by the president's office. National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib and First Vice President Amrullah Saleh accompanied Ghani during the visit.
— 1TVNewsAF (@1TVNewsAF) July 9, 2021
Saleh tweeted that he was "deeply impressed" by the professionalism of the Afghan army officiers who took charge of the base.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) July 9, 2021
US forces left Bagram - Afghanistan's largest airbase, on 2 July as part of their wider ongoing withdrawal from the war-torn country. The base, situated north of Kabul, became the main base of US forces in Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion. Before that, it was heavily used by Soviet forces during the 1980s war against US-sponsored jihadist militias.
Kabul has said that it has received equipment worth some $1 billion amid the US and NATO withdrawal.
On Friday, a Taliban delegation visiting Moscow to discuss the possibility of intra-Afghan talks told reporters that 85 percent of Afghanistan is now under its control. Government officials in Kabul dismissed these claims. Also Friday, Afghan security officials confirmed that militants captured a key border crossing with Iran after having previously overrun border areas with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan.
In a press conference in Moscow on Friday, the visiting Taliban delegation indicated that they do not seek to "dominate" the whole of Afghanistan, and that their aim was to free the country from foreign occupation and create a "free Islamic state system" based on dialogue. The group promised to tackle the heroin trade which boomed under the US occupation, guaranteed the safe movement of commercial cargoes in areas under their control, called on foreign humanitarian organisations to continue their work in Afghanistan, and reiterated that they would not allow Daesh (ISIS)* militants to operate in the country.
— Sputnik (@SputnikInt) July 9, 2021
The group also demanded the lifting of all foreign sanctions against them, and promised not to harm translators who had worked for US occupation forces. The delegation even claimed that the Taliban would "guarantee" the rights of women, including regarding education and employment, "if this does not contradict Islam." Only time will tell whether these promises will be kept.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
** The Taliban is deemed a terrorist group by Russia.