General Kenneth F. McKenzie, who led the evacuation operation, said the last US military personnel and diplomats have also been evacuated from Afghanistan. They departed from Kabul airport. The evacuations of foreigners and Afghans from Kabul airport have been halted. This ends 20 years of US military presence in Afghanistan.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson is also on board the last US flight operated by a C-17 aircraft. The flight departed earlier in the day, about twelve hours ago. US President Joe Biden wanted the evacuation to end by tomorrow, August 31. That date was agreed with the Taliban, which quickly regained control of the country in recent months.
In total, some 6,000 American citizens who wanted to do so have been removed from Afghanistan in the last few days. In total, the international coalition evacuated some 122,000 people. There are only “a few hundred” US citizens left in the country, McKenzie says. “We were unable to get everyone we wanted to evacuate from there.” No one was left behind at Kabul airport.
At Hamid Karzai International Airport, there is now no longer an aviation authority, and there is no longer any control over Afghan airspace, according to the American aviation authority FAA. According to the general, the Taliban have been “helpful” when it comes to evacuating foreigners of late. However, he thinks there are still about 2000 ‘hardcore IS fighters’ in the country.
Qari Yusuf confirms to Al Jazeera that the last American soldier has left Kabul airport on behalf of the Taliban. Our country is now completely independent.
According to the AP news agency, Taliban fighters at the airport watched as the last American planes disappeared into the sky. Then they fired into the air with their rifles and celebrated the victory after twenty years of struggle. “The last five planes are gone; it’s finally done!” said Taliban fighter Hemad Sherzad. “I cannot put into words how happy I am … twenty years of sacrifice has worked.”
Twenty years ago, in 2001, the US military invaded Afghanistan because of the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda in the United States. That happened after the Taliban, the then rulers of Afghanistan, refused to extradite the terror group leader. The Taliban were ousted, and NATO countries sent troops to Afghanistan after the US appealed to them.
In the following years, a new government was installed, and foreign troops remained to ensure security and help rebuild. The Taliban were defeated, but they did not disappear. Instead, they carried out attacks and tried to recapture areas and prepare local rulers for a change of power.
After years of negotiations, the Taliban and the US reached an agreement in 2020 on the departure of the US and NATO. US President Joe Biden announced in April this year that he would stick to the agreements of his predecessor Donald Trump, but moved the deadline. The Taliban then made a rapid advance and returned to power with the capture of Kabul in mid-August.