“I am here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans,” McKenzie told reporters. “The last C-17 took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 p.m. east coast time this afternoon on August 30, and the last manned aircraft is now clearing airspace over Afghanistan.”
The withdrawal marks the first time in nearly two decades that the US and its allies have no troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and – after spending $ 2 trillion and nearly 2,000 US soldiers killed – the withdrawal raises questions about its benefits of a war that saw the ministry of parents and then their grown children.
With no US diplomats remaining in the country, a senior State Department official said they expected the US embassy in Kabul to suspend operations after the end of the military decline, but said, “That doesn’t mean we have any commitments to America Exposing citizens in Afghanistan to endanger vulnerable Afghans, the Afghan people. “
Almost 20 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to close ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations after the terrorist attacks of the 11th.
Even as Biden pulls the US out of the country, Afghanistan appears to be politically shadowing him and engaging him militarily – on Monday White House officials said the president was continuing the hunt for terrorists in the country and urged his military commanders to “do nothing.” to avenge the deaths of 13 US soldiers at Kabul airport last week.
As of Monday, more than 122,000 people had flown from Hamid Karzai International Airport since July, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, including 5,400 Americans.
A senior State Department official said the department believes there are currently fewer than 250 American citizens in Afghanistan who may wish to leave, as U.S. officials stressed the Taliban’s obligation to allow Afghans to leave the country after the U.S. and allies withdraw allow. The State Department official put the number of American citizens who have left the country by evacuation flights or other means at 6,000.
“We believe there is a small number left and we are trying to pinpoint how many,” the official told reporters on Monday. “We go through manifestos of people who have left, we call and write to each other and send our lists on WhatsApp and email to get a more specific number of how many Americans might be staying.”
In the 24 hours leading up to Monday morning, 26 C-17 military aircraft took off from Kabul with 1,200 evacuees, according to General Hank Taylor, the Joint Staff’s deputy director of regional operations, who spoke alongside Kirby at a Pentagon briefing earlier Monday. A total of 28 flights took off from Kabul Airport in this 24-hour window, Taylor said.
Over the same 24-hour period, the US launched a drone strike that killed several civilians, including children, missiles hit Kabul airport, and the military continued to warn of active, specific threats to the evacuation effort.
The “threat stream is still real. It is still active and in many cases still specific,” Kirby said at the briefing on Monday morning when asked if another attack on the airport was still likely. Taylor added that military operations with a focus on the safety of US forces in Kabul would continue and the military would be able to evacuate Afghans until the end.
“We take it very seriously and we will do it until the end,” said Kirby.
With the exit from the military, the US is withdrawing all diplomatic missions and leaving the question unanswered as to whether it will officially recognize the Taliban as the ruler of Afghanistan.
The formal military and diplomatic “retrograde” ends as the US leaves behind Americans, some refused to leave and some have already left, according to State Department officials, as well as vulnerable Afghans who worked for the US military and now face possible retaliation Taliban.
This tragically unfinished business becomes part of the wider political challenge Biden faces as he enters the second half of his first year in office. As a devastating hurricane hits the south and the Covid-19 pandemic is picking up speed again, Biden is also faced with demands for the Afghanistan withdrawal to be settled.
The airlift, which began as a seemingly haphazard and hastily organized operation, was marked last week by the deaths of 13 soldiers and the death sentence on Afghan translators who helped US troops and diplomats but were unable to flee the country. In addition, Biden’s decision to leave is overshadowed by questions as to whether and how well the terrorist threat posed by Afghanistan has really been countered.
The president has already pledged to extend the US engagement in Afghanistan and to tell his military commanders that they should “stop at nothing” so that ISIS has to pay for the deaths of the soldiers, Psaki said on Monday.
I can tell you that the president made it clear to his commanders that they should stop at nothing to make ISIS pay for the deaths of these American soldiers at Kabul airport, “Psaki said at a press conference at the White House.
Sunday’s drone attack, which targeted a suspected car bomb targeting the airport, killed nine members of a family, including six children, as a relative of those killed spoke to a local journalist who works for CNN. The US Central Command, which oversees US military missions across the region, had previously announced that it would examine the possibilities of civilian casualties.
As the U.S. presence came to a chaotic end, Blinken convened an international ministerial conference on Afghanistan where he met virtually with members of the Afghan coalition and other allies, and the United Nations Security Council met in New York.
The UN panel was informed of the latest news from Afghanistan after France and Germany proposed a Security Council resolution calling for “a safe passage for those leaving Afghanistan” that would include counter-terrorism, human rights and humanitarian elements, diplomats told CNN over the weekend.
This story breaks and is updated.