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US meets deadline to vacate Pakistan air base


U.S. forces vacated the Shamsi Base Sunday under a deadline from the Pakistan government to leave the facility.

The last U.S. cargo planes were loaded and took off Sunday from the Shamsi Air Base after the Pakistan government ordered the United States to vacate the base by a Dec. 11 deadline.

"Last flight carrying left over US Personnel and Equipment departed Shamsi Base today and the Base has been completely vacated. The control of the Base has been taken over by the Army," the Pakistan Army said in a statement.

After a Nov. 26 NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Pakistan immediately shut down NATO supply routes and demanded the U.S. vacate Shamsi Base, which had been used by American forces, including the CIA, for operations to attack militants linked to al-Qaida, the Taliban and Pakistan's home-grown Haqqani network.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained since the deadly drone attack. Though U.S. officials and Pakistan's prime minister have said they believe the ties between the two countries can be rebuilt eventually, military commanders on both sides say the relationship is the worst it has ever been.

President BarackObama stepped up the drone campaign after he took office. U.S. officials say it has produced major successes in decimating the central leadership of al-Qaida and putting associated militant groups on the defensive.

Since 2004, U.S. drones have carried out more than 300 attacks inside Pakistan.

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