By Jennifer Ugwueke
Taliban fighters fired their guns into the air in celebration in Kabul as the last US troops left Afghanistan nearly twenty years after it arrived the country following the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.
Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, made the withdrawal announcement at a Pentagon news briefing on Monday, August 30, after the last troops sent to evacuate Americans and Afghans at risk following the Taliban’s return to power flew out of the capital Kabul.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said the last flight, a large C-17 military transport, took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport one minute before midnight Kabul time.
Recall that US President Joe Biden set a deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal earlier this year.
The final withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan meant the US military could not evacuate all the people that it had hoped to, said Central Command head General Kenneth McKenzie.
Even after an airlift that flew more than 120,000 people from the country since July, “we did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” McKenzie said.
After the US troops left on August 30, the Taliban proclaimed “full independence” for Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that “American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence”.
A senior Taliban official said the Taliban had “made history” after the last US troops pulled out.
Anas Haqqani, a senior official of the Taliban tweeted: “We made history again. The 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and NATO ended tonight.
“I am very happy that after 20 years of jihad, sacrifices & hardships I have this pride to see these historic moments.”
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride said celebrations erupted in Kabul as the last US troops left Afghanistan on a flight from the capital.
“The celebrations here in Kabul have been underway for the past hour or so – the whole skyline around the city here has been completely lit up with bursts of gunfire, although it has died off in the last few minutes or so,” McBride said, reporting from the Afghan capital.
“This is celebratory gunfire … it’s all aimed up into the sky but it has to come down somewhere.”