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President Biden speaking in the White House on July 8. Photo: Tom Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United States' military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31, President Biden announced Thursday during an update on the withdrawal process.

Why it matters: The U.S. has almost completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, though the departure has coincided with large territorial gains by the Taliban and a sharp increase in violence.

  • The U.S. intelligence community has warned that the Afghan government could collapse as soon as next year as the Taliban's battlefield offensive grows.
  • Biden's original goal was to remove all U.S. forces from the country by Sept. 11.

What they're saying: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build, and it is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country," Biden said.

  • The president said the U.S. will continue to support the Afghan government after its withdrawal and will still help to promote human rights in the country.

The president noted that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is "not inevitable" because the Afghan military outnumbers the Taliban and is better equipped.

  • He called the U.S. intelligence community's warning that Afghanistan's government is on the verge of falling "wrong."
  • "They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place. The question is will they generate the kind of cohesion to do it," the president said.

Of note: Biden repeatedly stressed the futility of attempting to force a governmental system on Afghanistan.

  • "It is up to the people of Afghanistan to decide what government they want, not us to impose the government on them. No country has ever been able to do that."

Zoom out: Biden said his administration will start finding and transporting Afghan nationals who helped U.S. forces during the Afghanistan War to host countries while they wait for U.S. visas this month.

  • He added that the terrorism threat has "metastasized" beyond Afghanistan and said the U.S. needs "to meet the threats where they are today."

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - World

U.S. offers condolence payments to families of civilians killed in Kabul air strike

Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby (left) and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor at a press briefing following the Kabul drone strike. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Pentagon has offered unspecified payments as a condolence to the families of 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, who were killed in an Aug. 29 U.S. drone strike in Kabul.

Why it matters: Though U.S. military officials initially said the drone strike targeted an Islamic State member, they later admitted that Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker who was driving the car struck by the drone, was an innocent victim.

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Pakistan Airlines halts flights to Kabul citing "heavy-handedness" of Taliban

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul on Sept 13. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday halted flights to Kabul after what it called "heavy-handedness" of Taliban authorities, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspension comes after the Taliban ordered PIA to slash ticket prices, warning that the company's Afghan operations could be blocked if it refused to do so, per Reuters.