Eleven American military members were killed in Afghanistan in 2020, including four in combat. But, as the U.S. nears its Aug. 31 deadline for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, a social media post falsely claims that there weren’t any U.S. casualties in Afghanistan in the last year-and-a-half of the Trump administration.
President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, were similar in one facet: their desire to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The Trump administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban last year that set a May 1, 2021, deadline for a final U.S. withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. Biden delayed that withdrawal, but set a new deadline of Aug. 31.
As the deadline neared, the Taliban steamrolled across the country, eventually capturing the capital of Kabul on Aug. 15. The swift fall of the Afghan government has led to a hasty evacuation of the country. According to the White House, about 21,600 people were evacuated in a 24-hour period that ended on the morning of Aug. 24.
U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan have diminished considerably in the years leading up to the withdrawal. But an Instagram post claimed, “There wasn’t a SINGLE American casualty in Afghanistan the last year and a half of the Trump admin. The Taliban FEARED President Trump and KNEW he would annihilate them, if they breached their peaceful exit negotiation. The blood is on Biden’s hands.”
In fact, 11 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan last year, including four in combat, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System. Twenty-three service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019, including 17 in combat.
No service members have been killed or wounded in action in Afghanistan in 2021, according to Defense Department reports as of Aug. 23.
Update, Aug. 26: U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, confirmed that 12 U.S. service members were killed and 15 injured in an Aug. 26 attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
In all, more than 2,400 American soldiers have been killed in the country since the war started nearly 20 years ago following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
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Lemire, Jonathan, et al. “Biden holds to Kabul Aug. 31 deadline despite criticism.” The Associated Press. 24 Aug 2021.
“U.S. Military Casualties – Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) Casualty Summary by Month and Service.” Defense Casualty Analysis System. Accessed 24 Aug 2021.
Wellman, Phillip. “Afghanistan: Remembering the fallen of 2020.” Stars and Stripes. 30 Dec 2020.
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