After 20 years, the remaining 500 Italian soldiers left Afghanistan. Only the engineers stayed to remove the infrastructure.
For Italy, the mission in Afghanistan really started in January 2002 with 100 soldiers deployed when only the British and American troops were in the country. In March 2003, Italy had 500 troops in the country, with a peak of 4,200 forces in 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was killed. In 2005, Italy was in charge of the region of Herat, the third-largest city of Afghanistan in the south west near the Iranian border, with 1,000 soldiers deployed in the the region while 1,200 others remained in Kabul.
In January 2021, Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini said “we will stay in the country with our Allies until necessary, and until the Afghan Institutions and people will ask us to do so“. But NATO’s decision to leave Afghanistan change Italy’s plans. Since May 15, the withdrawal process accelerated and has only become a logistical matter now.
The United States President Joe Biden had announced they would leave Afghanistan on September 21, 2021, exactly 20 years after the terrorist attacks that hit the United States. He stated that the 2,500 U.S. troops and the 7,000 from NATO would gradually leave Afghanistan starting on May 1.
Over the 20 years, Italy spent 8 billion euros ($9.75 billion USD) and lost 53 lives in the conflicts in Afghanistan.
Media sources and useful links:
- Italy continues its contribution to Afghanistan’s lasting security, through the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, NATO, January 2021, Free access