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War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)

Conflict between NATO Western forces and the Taliban / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The War in Afghanistan was an armed conflict from 2001 to 2021. It began when an international military coalition led by the United States launched an invasion of Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate and establishing the internationally recognized Islamic Republic three years later. The conflict officially ended with the 2021 Taliban offensive, which overthrew the Islamic Republic, and re-established the Islamic Emirate. It was the longest war in the military history of the United States, surpassing the length of the Vietnam War (1955–1975) by approximately 6 months.

War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
Part of the Global War on Terrorism and the Afghan conflict
Seven soldiers in beige tactical gear huddle behind a row of green sandbags on a mountainside, pointing rifles in various directions
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dropping 2000-pound munitions
An Afghan National Army soldier in camouflage gear points a rifle over a dirt wall
British soldiers prepare to board a Chinook twin-rotor helicopter landing on a field
An Afghan National Army soldier stands atop a desert-camouflaged Humvee
Taliban soldiers ride a beige Humvee through the streets of Kabul
Soldiers in green camouflage gear trudge through snow during a snowstorm

Clockwise from top-left:
American troops in a firefight with Taliban insurgents in Kunar Province; An American F-15E Strike Eagle dropping 2000 pound JDAMs on a cave in eastern Afghanistan; an Afghan soldier surveying atop a Humvee; Afghan and American soldiers move through snow in Logar Province; victorious Taliban fighters after securing Kabul; an Afghan soldier surveying a valley in Parwan Province; British troops preparing to board a Chinook during Operation Black Prince
Date7 October 2001 – 30 August 2021
(19 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
First phase: 7 October 2001 – 28 December 2014
Second phase: 1 January 2015 – 30 August 2021[1][2]
Result Taliban victory[3]
First phase:
Second phase:
Taliban control over Afghanistan increases compared to pre-intervention territory

Invasion (2001):
Flag_of_Afghanistan_%281992%E2%80%932001%29.svg Northern Alliance
Flag_of_the_United_States.svg United States
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Flag_of_Canada_%28Pantone%29.svg Canada

Flag_of_Germany.svg Germany[4]
Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg Australia
Flag_of_Italy.svg Italy
Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg New Zealand[5]
Flag_of_Iran.svg Iran
Invasion (2001):
Flag_of_the_Taliban.svg Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[6]
Flag_of_Jihad.svg Al-Qaeda
Flag_of_Jihad.svg 055 Brigade[7][8]
ISAF/RS phase (2001–2021):
Flag_of_Afghanistan_%281992%E2%80%932001%29.svg Islamic State of Afghanistan (2001–2002)
Flag_of_Afghanistan_%282002%E2%80%932004%29.svg Afghan Transitional Authority (2002–2004)
Flag_of_Afghanistan_%282013%E2%80%932021%29.svg Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004–2021)Flag_of_the_Resolute_Support_Mission.svg Resolute Support (2015–2021; 36 countries)[10]
Flag_of_the_Taliban.svg High Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (allegedly; from 2015)[11][12]
Khost Protection Force and other pro-government paramilitaries[13]
ISAF/RS phase (2001–2021):
Flag_of_the_Taliban.svg TalibanFlag_of_Jihad.svg Al-Qaeda
Supported by:
Flag_of_the_Taliban.svg Taliban splinter groups

RS phase (2015–2021):

AQMI_Flag_asymmetric.svg ISIL–KP (from 2015)[35]
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (since 2015)[36]
Commanders and leaders

Flag_of_the_International_Security_Assistance_Force.svg ISAF: 130,000+ (Peak Strength)[42]

Flag_of_Afghanistan_%282013%E2%80%932021%29.svg Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: 307,947 (Peak Strength, January 2021)[43]

Flag_of_the_Resolute_Support_Mission.svg Resolute Support Mission: 17,178 (Peak Strength, October 2019)[44]

Defence Contractors: 117,227 (Peak Strength, Q2 2012)[45]

Flag_of_Jihad.svg High Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: 3,000–3,500[46]

Khost Protection Force: 3,000-10,000 (2018)<refMujib Mashal (31 December 2018). "C.I.A.'s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger". The New York Times.</ref>

Afghanistan Taliban: 58,000-100,000
(As of February 2021)[47]

Flag_of_Hezbi_Islami_Gulbuddin.svg HIG: 1,500–2,000+ (2014)[51]
Flag_of_Jihad.svg al-Qaeda: ~300 in 2016[52][53][54] (~ 3,000 in 2001)[52]

Flag_of_Jihad.svg Fidai Mahaz: 8,000 (2013)[39]

Islamic State ISIL–KP: 3,500–4,000 (2018, in Afghanistan)[55]
Casualties and losses

Afghan security forces:
66,000–69,095 killed[56][57]
Northern Alliance:
200 killed[58][59][60][61][62]

Dead: 3,579

Wounded: 23,536

  • United States: 20,713[64]
  • United Kingdom: 2,188[65]
  • Canada: 635[66]

Dead: 3,917[57][67][68]
Wounded: 15,000+[67][68]

Total killed: 76,591

Taliban insurgents:
52,893 killed[57] (2,000+ al-Qaeda fighters)[52]

2,400+ killed[35]

Civilians killed: 46,319[57]

Total killed: 176,206 (per Brown University)[69]
212,191+ (per UCDP)

a The continued list includes nations who have contributed fewer than 200 troops as of November 2014.[71]

b The continued list includes nations who have contributed fewer than 200 troops as of May 2017.[72]

Following the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban immediately extradite al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to the United States; the Taliban refused to do so without evidence of Bin Laden's involvement. The US declared Operation Enduring Freedom, as part of the earlier-declared war on terror. Afghanistan was invaded and the Taliban and its allies were soon expelled from major population centers by the US-led forces, supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance; however, Bin Laden relocated to neighboring Pakistan. The US-led coalition remained in Afghanistan, forming a security mission (ISAF)—sanctioned by the United Nations—with the goal of creating a new democratic authority in the country that would prevent the Taliban from returning to power.[73] A new Afghan Interim Administration was established, and international rebuilding efforts were launched.[74] By 2003, the Taliban had reorganized under their founder, Mullah Omar, and began a widespread insurgency against the new Afghan government and coalition forces. Insurgents from the Taliban and other Islamist groups waged asymmetric warfare, fighting with guerrilla warfare in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets, and reprisals against perceived Afghan collaborators. By 2007, large parts of Afghanistan had been retaken by the Taliban.[75][76] In response, the coalition sent a major influx of troops for counter-insurgency operations, with a "clear and hold" strategy for villages and towns; this influx peaked in 2011, when roughly 140,000 foreign troops were operating under ISAF command across Afghanistan.[77]

A US covert operation in neighboring Pakistan led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, and NATO leaders began planning an exit strategy from Afghanistan.[78][79] On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and officially transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government. Unable to eliminate the Taliban through military means, coalition forces (and separately, the Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani) turned to diplomacy to end the conflict.[80] These efforts culminated in the US–Taliban deal in February 2020, which stipulated the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan by 2021.[81] In exchange, the Taliban pledged to prevent any militant group from staging attacks from Afghan territory against the US and its allies.[82] However, the Afghan government was not a party to the deal and rejected its terms.[83] Coinciding with the withdrawal of troops, the Taliban launched a broad offensive throughout the summer of 2021, successfully reestablishing their control over Afghanistan, including the capital city of Kabul on 15 August. On the same day, the last president of the Islamic Republic, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country; the Taliban declared victory and the war was formally brought to a close.[84] By 30 August, the last American military aircraft departed from Afghanistan, ending the protracted US-led military presence in the country.[85][86]

Overall, the war killed an estimated 176,000–212,000+ people, including 46,319 civilians.[87] While more than 5.7 million former refugees returned to Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion,[88] by the time the Taliban returned to power in 2021, 2.6 million Afghans remained refugees,[89] while another 4 million were internally displaced.[90][91]

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