Pentagon Confirms BEHIND 250 Stranded Afghan civilians marking the end of America’s longest war as Taliban ‘celebrate with gunfire’
- Gene. Kenneth F. McKenzie said the last flight left Kabul shortly after midnight
- It ends the US war in Afghanistan after 20 years
- Witnesses said Taliban fighters fired celebratory shots into the sky in Kabul
The Pentagon announced Monday afternoon that the last US troops had left Kabul airport nearly 24 hours earlier than planned, ending the US war in Afghanistan after 20 years and the deaths of nearly 2,500 troops.
Witnesses in Kabul said the Taliban fired celebratory shots as news circulated that the last US flight had departed.
It means President Biden managed to meet his August 31 deadline, but at the cost of a militant group set to retake the country and after the deaths of 13 US servicemen last week.
“I am here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate US citizens from third countries and vulnerable Afghans,” said General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. of the Marine Corps, commander of US Central Command.
He said the last C-17 took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 PM east coast time.
“And the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace over Afghanistan,” he added.
“The last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace over Afghanistan,” said General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. of the Marine Corps, commander of the US Central Command.
A C-17 Globemaster takes off as Taliban fighters secure the outer perimeter, along the US-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. A day later, the US said the last flight had departed
The departure of US troops means the conflict ends with the Taliban returning to power and Afghans very uncertain of what the future holds.
The final hours of the evacuation were the most tense.
Troops had to get the remaining evacuees on planes, even while their own numbers and supplies were being flown out.
Officials repeatedly warned of the risk of further suicide bombings or rocket attacks.
It shouldn’t have been like this. Plans for an orderly departure evaporated as the Taliban quickly advanced across the country while taking advantage of an Afghan army that disintegrated when it knew its strongest army would leave.
McKenzie shrugged with questions about his feelings about leaving the country in the grip of religious hardliners America went to war to win.
“No words of mine can express the full measure of sacrifice and achievement of those who serve, nor the emotions they feel at the moment, but I will say that I am proud that both my son and I are a part of it, ‘ he said.
The withdrawal was dominated by a hastily stacked evacuation effort.
President Joe Biden attended Sunday’s dignified transfer of the remains of soldiers killed in the attack at Kabul airport last week.
A coalition of countries worked around the clock to rescue their civilians and Afghans who worked for their armies.
More than 122,000 people have flown out of Kabul since August 14, the day before it took control of the country.
The Pentagon kept tight-lipped about its latest operations on Monday, refusing to discuss when the last troops would leave.
Earlier in the day, spokesman John Kirby told reporters that “there is still time” for Americans to participate in a massive airlift that has seen more than 116,000 people leave since the Taliban returned to power two weeks ago.
All day Monday, US military transport planes came and went, despite a missile strike early in the morning.