Turkey’s defence ministry said Wednesday it had started pulling troops out of Afghanistan, apparently abandoning its plans to help secure Kabul’s strategic airport.
“The Turkish Armed Forces are returning to our homeland with the pride of successfully fulfilling the tasks entrusted to it,” the ministry said in a statement.
Turkey had more than 500 non-combat troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now-abandoned mission in the war-torn country.
It had been negotiating with both the Taliban and Washington about playing a role in protecting the airport after the US troop withdrawal, which is scheduled to be completed on Tuesday.
But the Taliban’s swift capture of the Afghan capital left those plans in disarray.
“It is important for Afghanistan to stabilise,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as the troop withdrawal was announced.
“Turkey will continue to be in close dialogue with all parties in Afghanistan in line with this goal.”