US soldiers fire artillery in Afghanistan's Kandahar province in June 2011. Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in October 2001 to stop the Taliban regime from providing a safe haven to al Qaeda and to stop al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
Baz Ratner/Reuters

20 years in Afghanistan: America's longest war

Updated 6:37 PM ET, Mon August 16, 2021

US soldiers fire artillery in Afghanistan's Kandahar province in June 2011. Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in October 2001 to stop the Taliban regime from providing a safe haven to al Qaeda and to stop al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
Baz Ratner/Reuters

Less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, American and allied forces began combat operations in Afghanistan, targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban regime that had been giving al Qaeda protection.

Now, nearly two decades later, the United States has withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban have regained control of the country's capital.

US President Joe Biden admitted that the collapse of the Afghan government happened more quickly than his administration had anticipated, but he refused to back away from his decision to end America's longest war.

"I stand squarely behind my decision," Biden said on Monday, August 16. "After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces."

When he announced the withdrawal in April, Biden said diplomatic and humanitarian efforts would continue in Afghanistan and that the United States would support peace efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban. He said he had determined that a war that had killed some 2,300 troops and cost more than $2 trillion no longer fit within the pressing foreign policy concerns of 2021.

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