The final United States military flight has left the Afghan capital, a top US military general announced on Monday, officially ending the country’s 20-year war in Afghanistan.
General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said the US evacuated 79,000 people, including 6,000 American citizens, from Kabul since August 14.
The Biden administration has said it remains committed to helping people leave Afghanistan, which is under the control of the Taliban, after the military withdrawal is completed.
“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,” McKenzie told reporters during a news briefing at the Pentagon.
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Amid US withdrawal, the Taliban took over the country in a blistering offensive earlier this month, reaching Kabul on August 15 with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country and government forces collapsing.
US forces remained in control of the airport to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals and Afghan allies.
“Every single American service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with absolute certainty,” McKenzie said on Monday.
The general added that US forces started the evacuations on August 14 with the assumption that Afghan security forces would be a “willing and able” partner, but the Taliban took over the capital a day later. That’s when Washington started 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,” he said. “We have gone from cooperating on security with a longtime partner and ally to initiating a pragmatic relationship of necessity with a longtime enemy.”