US officials have declared the war in Afghanistan over after the last planes and military personnel left Kabul.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that last plane left late on Monday signalling the end of the 20 year war.
The Taliban appears to have celebrated with gunfire as news of the exit was confirmed.
Hours ahead of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline to leave, military planes carried the remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport.
Thousands had been working tirelessly to try and to evacuate Americans and Afghan refugees stranded in Kabul as the August 31 deadline loomed.
Gen. Frank McKenzie said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul.
He said a number of American citizens, likely numbering in “the very low hundreds,” were left behind, and that he believes they will still be able to leave the country.
Gen. McKenzie said: "I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens third country nationals and vulnerable Afghans. And the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan."
"No words from me could possibly capture the full measure of sacrifices and accomplishments of those who serve, nor the emotions they're feeling at this moment, but I will say that I'm proud that both my son and I have been a part of it," he added.
The airport had become a U.S.-controlled island, a last stand in a 20-year war that claimed more than 2,400 American lives.
Read our Afghanistan live blog for the very latest news and updates…
The closing hours of the evacuation saw American troops getting final evacuees onto planes while also getting themselves and some of their equipment out.
That came days after a suicide bomb had killed 13 American service members and some 169 Afghans.
The final pullout fulfilled Biden’s pledge to end what he called a “forever war” that began in response to the 9/11 attacks.
Monday's withdrawal ended America’s longest war.
More than 1,100 troops from coalition countries and more than 100,000 Afghan forces and civilians died, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.
Biden's decision, announced in April, reflected a national weariness of the Afghanistan conflict.
In Biden’s view the war could have ended 10 years ago with the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.
The administration had planned to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open, protected by a force of about 650 U.S. troops, including a contingent that would secure the airport along with partner countries.
Washington planned to give the now-defunct Afghan government billions more to prop up its army.
And Biden said: "Ladies and gentlemen. It was time to end a 20-year war.”
But the speed with which the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15 caught the Biden administration by surprise.
Chaotic scenes at the airport saw Afghan's attempting to cling to a C-17 transport plane as it sped down the runway.
Now the president faces condemnation at home and abroad for his handling of a final evacuation that unfolded in chaos.
Source: Read Full Article