- August 31, 2021
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Taliban celebrates Independence as US troops make final exit from Afghanistan
The Afghan group says the US defeat is a lesson for everyone else and says it wants ‘good relations with the rest of the world adding that Afghanistan is a “free and sovereign” nation as it hails the exit of US troops after 20 years of occupation, describing their departure as a “historic moment”.
Taliban fighters on Tuesday took charge of Kabul’s airport as the last US soldiers flew out of the country. Celebratory gunfire and fireworks lit up the Kabul night sky.
Speaking to reporters from Kabul airport on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “We do not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation.
“America was defeated… and on behalf of my nation, we want to have good relations with the rest of the world,” he said.
He also promised Afghans “will protect our freedom, independence and Islamic values”.
Earlier, Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, announced that the last American troops flew out of Kabul just before midnight local time (19:30 GMT).
“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we stayed another 10 days, we would not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”
The final US military flight has left the Afghan capital, the Pentagon has announced, officially ending the United States’s 20-year war in Afghanistan after a chaotic evacuation effort.
General Kenneth McKenzie, said that the US evacuated 79,000 people from Kabul, including 6,000 American citizens, since August 14, a day before the Taliban took control of the city.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” McKenzie told reporters during a news briefing at the Pentagon 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 took over Afghanistan earlier this month after a blistering offensive, reaching Kabul on August 15 as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and government forces collapsed.
US forces remained in control of the airport, however, as they worked to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and Afghan allies – and meet an August 31 troop withdrawal deadline set by President Joe Biden.
“Every single American service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with absolute certainty,” McKenzie said on Monday.
The general added that US forces started the evacuations on August 14 with the assumption that Afghan security forces would be a “willing and able” partner, but the Taliban took over the capital a day later. That is when Washington started coordinating the evacuation efforts with the group.