Washington: The United States has announced the end of its 20-year-old war in Afghanistan as the last American military flight flew out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul shortly before the August 31 deadline.
I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals and vulnerable Afghans,” US Central Command Commander Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie told reporters through a virtual news conference.
Every single US service member is now out of Afghanistan, McKenzie said, announcing the formal end of America’s longest war, less than a fortnight before the 20th anniversary of the September 9/11, in which Al Qaeda terrorists blew up the twin towers in New York.
The terrorist strike forced the US to enter Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban rule who then had provided safe havens to the Al Qaeda leadership.
The Taliban rule was overthrown and replaced by US-backed Afghans, who ruled the country for 20 years, during which several general elections were held. That rule was overthrown by the Taliban on August 15 when the president Ashraf Ghani suddenly fled the country and the 3,00,000 Afghan armed forces troops trained by the United States gave up without any fight.
The Taliban, which now is the ruling power in Afghanistan, welcomed the departure of the US troops from the country.
Congratulations to all our compatriots and our dear nation and Mujahideen: Today, all foreign forces left our pure and martyr land, the Taliban said in a tweet in Persian.
Special US Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet, Our war in Afghanistan is over. Our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen served with distinction and sacrifice to the very end. They have our enduring gratitude and respect.
With the departure of our military & those of the many partners who stood with us, Afghans face a moment of decision & opportunity. Their country’s future is in their hands. They will choose their path in full sovereignty. This is the chance to bring their war to an end as well, he said.
The Taliban now face a test. Can they lead their country to a safe & prosperous future where all their citizens, men & women, have the chance to reach their potential? Can Afghanistan present the beauty & power of its diverse cultures, histories, & traditions to the world? he said in another tweet.
Gen McKenzie said no American civilian was in the last flight.
While the military evacuation is complete, the diplomatic mission to ensure additional US citizens and eligible Afghans, who want to leave, continues. Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation, but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001. It’s a mission that brought Osama bin Laden to a just end, along with many of his al Qaeda co conspirators,” he said.
“And it was not a cheap mission. The cost was 2,461 US service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured. Sadly, that includes 13 service members who were killed last week by an ISIS-K suicide bomber. We honor their sacrifice today as we remember their heroic accomplishments, McKenzie said.
President Joe Biden had set a deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan has left many Americans behind.
Joe Biden left Americans behind. His decision to cause this disaster and abandon Americans and our interests proves what we all already knew Joe Biden is incapable of serving as Commander in Chief and the US and the world are less safe because of him, she said.
As Biden attempts to take a victory lap on his failed Afghanistan withdrawal, Americans remain stranded behind Taliban lines. To the men and women of America’s armed forces and their families, Americans will always honor the sacrifice that you and your loved ones made for our country, McDaniel said in a statement.