Aftenposten journalists and photographers have been following the war in Afghanistan for two decades.
Exactly 20 years ago, on October 7, 2001, a US-led coalition entered Afghanistan.
The background was the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, behind which was Al-Qaeda. The United States believed that the terrorist organization was hiding in mountainous areas of northern Afghanistan and would strike back in an attempt to knock out Al-Quida and avenge the terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
As part of this, the Western coalition also had to fight the Islamist group Taliban, which was in power in Kabul and much of Afghanistan in 2001.
What followed was a long, extremely costly and bloody war that ended in defeat.
With the help of US warplanes, the Afghan forces succeeded in taking over al-Qaeda positions. Here from the Milawa Valley, northeast Afghanistan.
December 16, 2001. The president of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld, meets with Hamid Karzai, who is temporarily the prime minister of the country, a friend of the West.
“Lasting Peace” was the name of the American invasion. Thursday marks 20 years since it began.
Aftenposten closely followed the war in the years that came both on the escalation here at home and on the ground in Afghanistan.
The country has mountains that stretch several thousand meters into the sky. In the summer, you can stop at 30-40 degrees and explore towards the mountain tops where glaciers cling to the slopes of the mountains.
The capital, Kabul, is 1790 meters above sea level.
Although the topography makes the country particularly demanding to fight, many have tried. When the United States entered 12 years after the Soviet-Afghan war, no one had cleaned up after the old conflict. The remains of old tanks and armored personnel carriers were strewn about.
The US-led coalition has had a massive presence in the country from 2001 to 2021.
Norway has also made a significant contribution to the war. Norwegian ISAF soldiers are on patrol here.
Norwegian deminers live hot and dangerous, wearing helmets, vests and air-cushioned shoes.
Telemark battalion trains in Mazar, Sharif camp, northern Afghanistan
Norwegian ISAF soldiers patrol the city where they also distribute newspapers in several languages to inform the inhabitants of the city.
The death toll after 20 years of war is huge.
At the infamous Pul-e-Charki prison in Kabul, the most dangerous Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners are in Afghan custody. On the left you can see Aminullah Habibi. He was sentenced to death for being part of the Taliban. Aftenposten was inside the walls.
While in prison, they had time to practice weight lifting and martial arts.
Mulla Zia Ahmad told Aftenposten in 2010 that he is convinced that the Taliban will win.
In 2008, Chancellor Jonas Gahr Støre was in Afghanistan. Several Taliban terrorists attacked the Hotel Serena where he and several Norwegians were staying.
The suicide bomber’s shoes are all that’s left after the explosion.
Two Norwegians were shot and seriously injured during the attack. Dagbladet journalist Carsten Thomassen died of his injuries.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later declared that the Norwegian delegation, led by Støre, was the target of the attack.
Norway suffered military losses during the war. Ten Norwegians died. At the Mazar-e Sharif military camp on July 1, 2010, the coffins of the four fallen soldiers Trond Bolle, Christian Lian, Simen Tokle and Andreas Eldjarn were escorted in procession to the airport.
Official Norway posed in black when 47 Norwegian soldiers received medals for their service in Afghanistan. They landed in Norway to hear the news of the four deaths.
For nearly 20 years, the Western military presence became part of daily life in Afghanistan. Here, an elderly Afghan man receives medical care at a field hospital in Kandahar in 2003.
Tens of thousands of lives have been lost and tens of billions of billions of crowns have been spent. This is the war in Afghanistan in numbers.
After 20 years in the country, the Americans were leaving. The power vacuum they left behind allowed the Taliban to advance at record speed. The Afghan security forces that Western countries had spent tens of billions on training and equipment completely collapsed in a matter of weeks. On August 15, Kabul fell and the Taliban seized power in the country and seized huge amounts of Western military equipment.
In the time that followed, a chaotic evacuation operation ensued in which Western countries transported tens of thousands of people from the airport. The IS branch of the Islamist terror group attacked the airport as people tried to flee the country and at least 170 were killed.
The last American soldiers left Afghan soil on August 31. The moment one of them got on the plane was captured by a night camera.
Aftenposten recently returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban regained power. There we visited, among other things, what was the Norwegian embassy in Kabul.
Here the Taliban fighters test the rowing machine and show off their wooden skis.