Timeline of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)

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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[34][35]
Result Taliban victory[36]
First phase:
Second phase:
Taliban control over Afghanistan increases compared to pre-intervention territory

Invasion (2001):
 Northern Alliance
 United States
 United Kingdom

 New Zealand[2]
Invasion (2001):
 Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[3]
 055 Brigade[4][5]
ISAF/RS phase (2001–2021):
 Islamic State of Afghanistan (2001–2002)
 Afghan Transitional Authority (2002–2004)
 Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004–2021) Resolute Support (2015–2021; 36 countries)[7]
High Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (allegedly; from 2015)[8][9]
Khost Protection Force and other pro-government paramilitaries[10]
ISAF/RS phase (2001–2021):
 Taliban Al-Qaeda
Supported by:
Taliban splinter groups

RS phase (2015–2021):

ISIL–KP (from 2015)[32]
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (since 2015)[33]
Commanders and leaders

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

Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: 307,947 (Peak Strength, January 2021)[43]

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

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

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

Khost Protection Force: 3,000-10,000 (2018)[47]

Afghanistan Taliban: 58,000-100,000
(As of February 2021)[48]

HIG: 1,500–2,000+ (2014)[52]
al-Qaeda: ~300 in 2016[53][54][55] (~ 3,000 in 2001)[53]

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

Islamic State ISIL–KP: 3,500–4,000 (2018, in Afghanistan)[56]
Casualties and losses

Afghan security forces:
66,000–69,095 killed[57][58]
Northern Alliance:
200 killed[59][60][61][62][63]

Dead: 3,579

Wounded: 23,536

  • United States: 20,713[65]
  • United Kingdom: 2,188[66]
  • Canada: 635[67]

Dead: 3,917[58][68][69]
Wounded: 15,000+[68][69]

Total killed: 76,591

Taliban insurgents:
52,893 killed[58] (2,000+ al-Qaeda fighters)[53]

2,400+ killed[32]

Civilians killed: 46,319[58]

Total killed: 176,206 (per Brown University)[70]
212,191+ (per UCDP)

a The continued list includes nations who have contributed fewer than 200 troops as of November 2014.[72]

b The continued list includes nations who have contributed fewer than 200 troops as of May 2017.[73]

The following items form a partial timeline of the War in Afghanistan. For events prior to October 7, 2001, see 2001 in Afghanistan.


  • October 7: (9 p.m. local time): the United States, supported by Britain, begins its attack on Afghanistan, launching bombs and cruise missiles against Taliban military and communications facilities and suspected terrorist training camps. Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat were hit.
  • October 9: A cruise missile kills four U.N. demining employees and injured four others in a building several miles east of Kabul.
  • October 19: Airborne invasion into Afghanistan by Rangers of the Third Ranger Battalion, Seventy Fifth Ranger Regiment and others seizing a Qandahar airfield named Objective Rhino.
  • October 26: Abdul Haq killed.
  • November 6: Zari, Keshendeh and Aq-Kupruk fall to the Northern Alliance[74]
  • November 8: Pakistan, being the only nation that still had diplomatic ties to the Taliban, asked Afghanistan's rulers to close their consulate in the city of Karachi.
  • November 9: Battle of Mazari Sharif.
  • November 10: The Taliban and Northern Alliance fighters both claimed that the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazari Sharif was taken by Northern Alliance fighters.
  • November 11: Journalists Pierre Billaud, Johanne Sutton, and Volker Handloik are ambushed and killed.
  • November 12: Taliban forces abandon Kabul ahead of advancing Northern Alliance troops.
  • November 14: Northern Alliance fighters took over Kabul, the Afghan capital, and then controlled virtually all the north of Afghanistan.
  • November 16: Mohammed Atef, the military chief of al-Qaeda, killed in a US airstrike.
  • November 19: Four foreign journalists - Harry Burton, Maria Grazia Cutuli, Azizullah Haidari, and Julio Fuentes – were ambushed and killed.
  • November 25: Northern Alliance gained control of Kunduz, the last Taliban stronghold in Northern Afghanistan, but only after Pakistani aircraft rescue several thousand Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters and their military advisers.[75][76] The Taliban then controlled less than 25% of the country, mainly around Kandahar in the south.
    • U.S. Marines landed in force by helicopter at Camp Rhino south of Kandahar and began preparing it for fixed wing aircraft. They also occupied the main road between Kandahar and Pakistan.
    • Battle of Qala-i-Jangi. Forces loyal to bin Laden smuggled weapons into their prison near Mazar i Sharif after surrendering at Kunduz. They attacked the Northern Alliance guards and storm an armory. U.S. Special Forces call in air attacks. Hundreds of prisoners are killed as well as 40 Alliance fighters and one U.S. CIA operative, Johnny Michael Spann. Spann becomes the first U.S. and Coalition combat casualty. A young American named John Walker Lindh is found in the midst of the rebellion and extradited to the US on terrorism charges.
  • December 6: Kandahar falls.
  • December: The Battle of Tora Bora against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters; Osama bin Laden reportedly escapes during this battle.
  • December: The Dasht-i-Leili massacre, where hundreds of Taliban were allegedly suffocated to death while being transported in metal containers.
  • December: The Bonn Agreement establishes the postwar system of government for Afghanistan, and establishes the International Security Assistance Force.
  • December 22: The interim Afghan government is sworn in.




  • January 4 – Constitution approved by Loya Jirga.
  • January 26 – Constitution signed by President Hamid Karzai.
  • October 9 – 2004 Afghan presidential election. In the country's first direct election, Hamid Karzai wins the presidency with 55.4% of the vote.







  • January 15: The first of the Maywand District murders occurs on this date.
  • February 12: Five innocent civilians including two pregnant women and a teenage girl killed in the botched Khataba raid.
  • February 21: Uruzgan helicopter attack kills 27-33 civilians including four women and a child in Uruzgan province.
  • Spring: Operation Moshtarak Phase I is led by US Marines to retake Marjah, in Helmand Province, from the Taliban.
  • Spring-Summer: U.S. Surge to Afghanistan sees its peak, as 20,000 soldiers are deployed to the south
  • June 23: General Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the ISAF, resigns after controversial comments critical of the Obama administration were published in a magazine.
  • July 23: The Sangin airstrike kills a large number of Afghan civilians mostly women and children in Nangarhar province.
  • July 25: WikiLeaks releases 90,000 leaked documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan.
  • September 18: Afghan Parliamentary Elections are held, widely criticized as fraudulent, although with notable instances of electoral institution impartiality.
  • October 17: A US soldier murders a Taliban prisoner.
  • Fall: Operation Moshtarak Phases II and III are held in Kandahar, driving the Taliban out of traditional safe-havens
  • Fall: Command of Regional Command South rotates from British to American command.


  • January 26: The Afghan National Assembly is inaugurated.[83]
  • March 1: Mano Gai airstrike occurs in which NATO troops kill 9 minors.
  • May 1: The number one Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, just miles from Islamabad.
  • May 23: 4 U.S. soldiers (2nd Battalion 27th Infantry Regiment) die and 1 wounded following an improvised explosive device attack in Kunar province.
  • June 4–6: The Battle Of Gewi Ridge takes place where a platoon of U.S. soldiers air-assaulted the mountain ridge of Gewi (Kunar province) for over-watch of a major re-supply convoy. Following the insertion, an intensive firefight lasting 52 hours takes place, resulting in the deaths of 50+ Taliban insurgents.
  • August 6: A CH-47 Chinook helicopter transporting 30 U.S. soldiers (including 17 Navy SEALs), 1 civilian interpreter and 7 Afghan troops is shot down in Wardak Province by RPG-wielding Taliban insurgents. There were no survivors of the crash. This incident marks the deadliest day for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.
  • August 11: Vengeance is exacted on the 11 Taliban militants involved in downing the CH-47 Chinook, who are killed in an F-16 airstrike. Meanwhile, five ISAF service members die following an improvised explosive device attack in the southern provinces.
  • September 20: Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former President and head of the High Peace Council, was assassinated by Taliban suicide bombers in Kabul.
  • November 26: 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan occurs in which 28 Pakistani soldiers are killed at the Durand Line, although it's disputed which side instigated the event.
  • December 9: Mohammed Ishmael, Ghaziabad district (Kunar province) police chief is killed in a suicide bombing of a mosque carried out by a 12-year-old Pakistani boy.



The army of the United States continues to conduct missions throughout Afghanistan, began closing forward operating bases (FOB).




  • December 31: United States troops withdraw from Afghanistan after 15 years.





Taliban militants patrolling Kabul in September 2021

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bordering areas of Pakistan were also affected (War in North-West Pakistan), and was considered for some time to be a single theater of operations by the United States (AfPak)


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