US Officially Leaves Afghanistan, Marking The End Of A 20-Year War
With the last US troops flying out of Afghanistan, America’s longest war has come to an end.
All US service members have since departed from Kabul, bringing a 20-year war that has taken the lives of more than 2,400 troops and tens of thousands of Afghans to a close.
The American military presence was originally sparked by the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Many have compared the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country to the fall of Saigon, which concluded the Vietnam War.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue of the 82nd Airborne Division and Ross Wilson, acting US ambassador, were the last two Americans to leave Kabul, just minutes before the August 31 deadline. The militant group earlier warned any extension would have been received as a provocation.
The C-17 military transport plane took off late last night, reportedly followed by celebratory gunfire by the Taliban.
It also comes after a huge evacuation effort by the US and other countries, with thousands of Afghans desperate to flee from the Taliban’s rule given its brutal history. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the top commander in the region, said more than 123,000 civilians were evacuated.
Amid the countdown to August 31, crowds and troops waiting at Kabul’s airport were also attacked by ISIS-K gunmen and suicide bombers. More than 100 people were killed, including at least 13 US service members and 90 Afghans. The possibility of further attacks stoked the fears of nations trying to assist with the evacuation efforts.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the operation as a ‘massive military, diplomatic and humanitarian undertaking… a new chapter has begun. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun.’
President Joe Biden will address the nation later today. ‘Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,’ he wrote in a short statement, praising the ‘unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve’ of troops.
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