A new photo shows the last remaining US diplomats in Afghanistan along with Ambassador Ross Wilson carrying the folded US flag before boarding the last US flight from Kabul.
Some smiled softly and others looked dulled by the events of the past two weeks. All were dressed in military-style bulletproof vests.
“My deepest thanks to @USAmbKabul Wilson, Amb. Bass, and the team for their exceptional and courageous service in bringing so many to safety. I am confident that their skills and dedication will continue to advance our consular work and diplomacy as a new chapter begins,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, accompanying the photo.
The photo was taken Monday at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The diplomats above, including Amb. Ross Wilson, were some of the last to leave Kabul when the embassy closed Afghanistan and handed over its mission to Qatar
The last 20 years of the US occupation in Afghanistan came to an abrupt end on Monday when the last evacuation flight departed from Kabul.
The US has now completely closed its embassy in Kabul and will move operations to Doha, Qatar.
Just two weeks ago, on August 15, Wilson, along with other embassy personnel, was seen fleeing the embassy in Kabul holding the American flag that once hung over it.
“As of today, we have suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar, which will be formally notified to Congress shortly. Given the uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan, it was the sensible step to take,” Blinken said in a speech on Monday.
Blinken thanked Wilson for his “exceptional job” and announced that Ian McCary, who has served as our deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan, would lead the operation in Qatar.
For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan, including consular affairs, provide humanitarian aid and work with allies, partners and regional and international stakeholders to coordinate our engagement and reporting to the Taliban. ‘ he said.
Just seconds after the last flight departed at 11:59 p.m. local time, the Taliban captured the airport, boarded stranded planes, and images surfaced on social media of fighters examining Chinook helicopters abandoned by US forces.
One of the last US Air Force planes takes off from the airport in Kabul . on August 30
Taliban troops flying their flag drive down the runway at Kabul airport in a US Humvee after troops withdraw
Taliban take control of Hamid Karzai International Airport after completion of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 31
Biden will address the public at 2:45 p.m. EST on Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after the chaotic conclusion to America’s longest war.
He said in a statement Monday: “It was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and all our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned.”
“Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops and safeguard the prospects of civilian departures for those looking to leave Afghanistan in the coming weeks and months,” the president said.
The US has evacuated more than 120,000 since August 14, including 5,500 Americans.
But some 100 to 200 Americans and thousands of remaining Afghan allies have to fend for themselves now that the airport no longer offers an escape route, and Blinken said the State Department would continue to work to get them out.
US troops have left as many as 70 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft in Afghanistan, though much of the equipment has been disabled.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters hours later on the airport runway: “Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to all of us.
Mujahid said the Taliban’s victory was a “lesson for other invaders.”
The Taliban fired celebratory shots as news circulated that the last US flight had departed.
Coffins draped with the American, British and French flags, as well as NATO insignia, were paraded through the streets of Khost on Tuesday by crowds waving the Taliban flag, hours after the last American plane took off.
The taunting ceremony followed the deaths of 13 US troops and a total of 170 people in an ISIS-K suicide bombing at Kabul airport last week.