U.S. Completes Withdrawal Of Forces From Afghanistan
The United States completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan on Monday, August 30, 2021, ending 20 years of war that culminated in the militant Taliban's return to power.
Photo Insert: U.S. airmen board a C-17 Globemaster at Al Udeid Air Base during the withdrawal.
Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit. Following a chaotic evacuation, they leave behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation, Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart, Rupam Jain, and Joseph Nasr reported for Reuters late on August 30, 2021.
A total of 122,000 people were evacuated since August 14, 2021.
Celebratory gunfire rang out in Kabul after the completion of the US pullout that ended America's longest war. Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf said: "The last U.S. soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence," Al Jazeera TV reported on Monday.
Two US officials said "core" diplomatic staff were among the 6,000 Americans to have left. McKenzie added the final flights did not include the less than 250 Americans who expressed a desire to leave but could not get to the airport.
President Joe Biden said in a statement after the withdrawal that the world would hold the Taliban to their commitment to allow safe passage for those to want to leave Afghanistan.
"Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended," said Biden, who thanked the US military for carrying out the dangerous evacuation. He plans to address the American people on Tuesday afternoon.
The operation was completed before the Tuesday deadline set by Biden, who has drawn heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of Afghanistan since the Taliban took over Kabul earlier this month after a lightning advance.