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US completes Afghanistan withdrawal as remaining flight leaves Kabul

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The remaining US navy flight has left the Afghan capital, the Pentagon introduced, formally ending the United States’s 20-year struggle in Afghanistan after a chaotic evacuation effort.

General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, mentioned that the US evacuated 79,000 folks from Kabul, together with 6,000 American residents, since August 14, a day earlier than the Taliban took management of the town.

“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” McKenzie advised reporters throughout a information briefing on 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 nation and authorities forces collapsed.

US forces remained answerable for the airport, nonetheless, as they labored to evacuate American residents, 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 mentioned on Monday.

The common added that US forces began the evacuations on August 14 with the idea that Afghan safety forces can be a “willing and able” companion, however the Taliban took over the capital a day later. That is when Washington began coordinating the evacuation efforts with the group.

“It’s important to understand that within 48 hours of the execution order, facts on the ground had changed significantly,” McKenzie mentioned. “We have gone from cooperating on security with a longtime partner and ally to initiating a pragmatic relationship of necessity with a longtime enemy.”

Safe passage

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Washington, DC, mentioned McKenzie was extraordinarily “frank” in the course of the Pentagon briefing, telling reporters that the Taliban had been “helpful and useful” prior to now few days, particularly in serving to to safe the airport.

“He was quite frankly … complimentary of the Taliban and their efforts,” he mentioned. “But he did say that the US did not coordinate at all with the Taliban in terms of the exact time and date that the last planes left the airport.”

The Biden administration has mentioned it stays dedicated to serving to folks go away Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

In a press release confirming the tip of the US mission, Biden lauded the evacuation operation and vowed to work to make sure “safe passage” in a foreign country for Americans and eligible Afghans who might stay.

“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments,” mentioned Biden, including that he would ship a speech on Tuesday on why he determined in opposition to extending the withdrawal deadline, as urged by some US lawmakers and European allies.

The United Nations Security Council adopted a decision earlier on Monday requiring the Taliban to honour their dedication to let folks freely go away Afghanistan.

Over the previous weeks, chaotic scenes have damaged out at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as determined Afghans fearing Taliban repression sought to depart the nation, spurring widespread criticism of the Biden administration.

An assault on the airport final week killed at the least 175 folks, together with dozens of Afghan civilians and 13 US troopers, and prompted a warning from Biden of extra potential violence within the remaining days of the navy withdrawal. Thursday’s lethal bombing was claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-Ok).

Biden ‘stands by’ withdrawal

Leading a coalition of worldwide companions, the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 assaults in Washington, DC and New York. The Taliban, which was answerable for Kabul, had been harbouring al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

US forces swiftly took over the nation, however they struggled to defeat a guerrilla warfare marketing campaign by the Taliban within the following 20 years.

With the struggle rising more and more unpopular within the US, former President Donald Trump reached an settlement with the Taliban final 12 months that may make sure the withdrawal of the American navy from the nation.

The deal additionally stipulated that Afghan authorities would “prevent the use of Afghan soil by any international terrorist groups or individuals against the security of the United States and its allies” and referred to as for “intra-Afghan dialogue” between the Taliban and the federal government in Kabul.

Biden, who got here to workplace in January, pushed on with the withdrawal plan, stressing that Afghan forces had the numbers, coaching and gear to combat off the Taliban. But in early August, with the US withdrawal deadline approaching, provincial capitals started falling to the Taliban with little resistance from Afghan safety forces.

Asfandyar Mir, an affiliate with the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, referred to as the US withdrawal a “historic moment” within the post-9/11 period.

“From a US perspective, it is one of the lowest points for US foreign policy, national security, in recent memory,” he mentioned, pointing to the swift collapse of the Afghan authorities and the chaotic evacuations.

“I think it is inescapable that all of this is tremendously humiliating,” Mir advised Al Jazeera.

Earlier on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki mentioned Biden doesn’t remorse the withdrawal choice, nonetheless.

“The president stands by his decision to bring our men and women home from Afghanistan because if he had not … we would have sent tens of thousands potentially, or thousands at least more troops, back into harm’s way, risking more lives and more people to fight a war the Afghans were not willing to fight themselves,” Psaki mentioned.

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