American forces have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year conflict in which more than 2,400 Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans were killed. The Taliban have now secured control of the country following the withdrawal.
It was confirmed by General Kenneth F Mckenzie in a press conference at the Pentagon that American forces had officially completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the September deadline. In the conference, the General said “the last C-17 lifted off on 30 August at 3.29pm (EDT) and the last manned aircraft is clearing the airspace above Afghanistan now.” President Joe Biden praised the American military’s “courage, professionalism, and resolve” in what he described as “the largest airlift in US history.”
The evacuation was, however, chaotic. General McKenzie said that while the “vast majority” of American citizens trying to leave were able to do so, not everyone was able to leave. The US government now intends to use diplomatic methods to finish the evacuation of Americans. Tens of thousands of Afghans also fled to the airport in the hopes of escaping the new Taliban regime, some of whom worked as translators for American and British forces and are now seeking evacuation alongside the remaining American and British nationals.
Panic intensified due to an ISIS-K suicide bomber which killed 13 American and three British troops alongside dozens of Afghans. An estimated 2,000 dedicated ISIS fighters are thought to still be in Afghanistan.
The Taliban celebrated their victory as the final US planes left the country, with some firing rounds into the air near the airport. Despite Taliban assurances, fears remain that the group will reinstate their form of Sharia law that previously saw women’s rights almost entirely removed.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan means President Biden has followed through on predecessor Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw all American forces from the country. Biden has faced heavy criticism for completing the withdrawal as the Taliban took the opportunity to quickly overpower the Afghan military and take power of the country.
America first entered Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 to prevent al Qaeda from using the country as a base. The American presence spanned 20 years and became deeply unpopular both domestically and within Afghanistan.
The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has said that America’s diplomatic mission would now operate from Doha, Qatar.