The last flight of the US military has flown out of the Afghan capital, announced by the Pentagon earlier today, marking the official end of the United States’s 20-year-long war in Afghanistan after their messy evacuation efforts.
General Kenneth McKenzie, US Central Command commander, stated that the United States evacuated over 75,000 people from the capital of Kabul, which included at least 6,000 American citizens, since August 14, which was only a day before the Taliban took back control.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” General McKenzie reported during the Pentagon news briefing on Monday.
“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.”
The Taliban gained control of Afghanistan toward the beginning of this month following a strong offensive, making it to Kabul on the 15th of August as Afghani President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, causing the government’s forces to collapse.
However, US military forces maintained control of the airport as they made an effort to evacuate as many American citizens, third-country nationals, and Afghan allies as possible – rushing to meet a troop withdrawal deadline of August 31st, which President Joe Biden set.
“Every single American service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with absolute certainty,” McKenzie told reporters on Monday.
He went on to add that US forces began the evacuations on the 14th of August under the assumption that Afghan forces would be willing and able to assist. However, the Taliban took control of the capital only a day later. This is when the US began to coordinate the evacuation efforts with the remaining group.
Gabriel Elizondo, reporting in from DC, stated that McKenzie was quite “frank” during the briefing at the Pentagon, relaying to reporters that the Taliban had been “helpful and useful” in evacuating the remainder of US forces and allies.
“He was quite frankly … complimentary of the Taliban and their efforts,” he said. “But he did say that the US did not coordinate at all with the Taliban in terms of the exact time and date that the last planes left the airport.”
Biden and his administration have said that they remain committed to assisting people in their efforts to flee Afghanistan after the mass withdrawal.
Biden went on to praise the evacuation operation and doubled down on his vow to work to secure “safe passage” out of the country for Americans and eligible Afghan allies who may still be in the country.
“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage, and the world will hold them to their commitments,” stated Biden. He went on to add that he would give a speech on Tuesday detailing why he decided against an extension of the deadline to withdraw.
The United Nations Security Council has since adopted a resolution earlier on Monday which requires the Taliban to honor their commitment to allow those who wish to leave to do so freely.