The last American plane took off from Kabul International Airport a minute before midnight on Monday to Tuesday local time, said US Middle East Commander General Kenneth McKenzie. The last evacuation flight from Kabul also included General Chris Donahue, the commander of the US military ground forces in Afghanistan, and Ross Wilson, the highest-ranking American diplomat in Kabul.
One Taliban patrol at Kabul Airport confirmed to the AP that the last five US planes had left shortly after midnight local time. Celebrating gunfire erupted in the streets of the city. “US troops have left Kabul Airport and our nation has gained complete independence,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded.
Source: SITA – (Department of Defense via AP)
The Pentagon said some Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan could not get to Kabul airport and board US evacuation flights before the US forces withdrew completely. But McKenzie said the United States believed it had evacuated the “vast majority” of Americans who wanted to leave. The United States and allies have evacuated about 123,000 civilians from Afghanistan, the AFP writes.
McKenzie also confirmed in media reports that the Taliban movement had given great support to US forces in securing Kabul Airport. Although things did not work perfectly for him, the help of the movement was crucial, especially in the last days of the expulsion of the USA, writes the BBC.
The Taliban’s fundamentalist movement took power in Afghanistan in mid-August after the rapid offensive, and the United States and its allies urgently sought to evacuate tens of thousands of people from the country before August 31, set by US President Joe Biden to completely expel US forces from Afghanistan. They were sent to the country 20 years ago by President George W. Bush in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Biden will address the decision not to extend the mission in Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden announced that he would address Tuesday on the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan after 20 years. The AFP agency informed about it on Tuesday night. “Tomorrow afternoon, I will address the American people in connection with my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond 31 August,“Biden said in a statement shortly after the Pentagon announced that the last US military plane had left the Afghan capital Kabul.
The White House said Biden would have a speech at 1.30pm Washington time (7.30pm CET). In a statement, Biden praised the evacuation of the last American soldiers, diplomats and almost all Americans, as well as tens of thousands of Afghan allies who cooperated or fought alongside international forces.
Source: SITA – (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)
“Over the past 17 days, our troops have evacuated more than 120,000 U.S. citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies in the United States through the largest air bridge in United States history.” said the head of the White House. “Our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan is over,” he added. An unspecified number of Americans remained in Afghanistan, as did several Afghans who wanted to leave but could not board American planes.
Source: SITA – (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)
Biden reiterated promises from US and international officials that the Taliban, which had already gained full control of Kabul, including the airport, had agreed to allow the groups to leave the country. The US president added that the goal is to reopen the airport, “which will allow people who want to leave and deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan to fly away”.
On August 15, militants of the fundamentalist Taliban movement easily occupied the Afghan capital, Kabul, and overthrew a government that had been militarily backed by the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance for two decades. Many countries have evacuated their citizens and embassy staff.
The Taliban will have to earn its legitimacy or support
The United States expects the Taliban to meet its commitments once US troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan, but any legitimacy or support will have to be “earned.” This was announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. AFP and AP reported on Tuesday night.
Source: SITA – (Department of Defense via AP)
In a speech – just hours after the last US military plane flew from the Afghan capital Kabul – Blinken said the US embassy in Kabul would remain closed for the foreseeable future. According to him, American diplomats will be based in Doha, Qatar.
“Our troops have left Afghanistan,” Blinken said. “A new chapter in America’s engagement in Afghanistan has begun … The military mission is over; a new diplomatic mission has begun,” he added. Blinken said the United States is committed to helping any American who wants to leave Afghanistan. According to him, less than 200 American citizens remained in the country, but their number is probably only close to a hundred. “We will continue our tireless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they so choose.” stated.
Source: SITA – (Jonathan Ernst / Pool via AP)
According to Reuters, Blinken said that the United States is ready to cooperate with the new Taliban government if it does not carry out repression against opponents in the country. At the same time, the head of American diplomacy said that the Taliban will have to fulfill its commitments to provide freedom of travel, respect for the rights of women and minorities, as well as not allow the country to become a base for terrorism.
“The Taliban is seeking international legitimacy and support. Any legitimacy and support will need to be earned.” added Blinken. The terrorist threat remains a major problem in Afghanistan. The commander of the US Armed Forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth McKenzie, said that there were still at least 2,000 fighters of the “hard core” terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) in the country.