The United States has said that it had completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after it had invaded the country in the wake of the 11 Sept, 2001, attacks.
The emergency air evacuation came to an end before a Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who inherited a troop withdrawal deal made with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump and decided earlier this year to complete the pullout.
A senior Taliban official said “we have made history”, as celebratory gunfire rang out across the Afghan capital after the last US troops pulled out.
“We made history again. The 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and Nato ended tonight,” said Anas Haqqani, a senior official in the Taliban movement, in a tweet. “I am very happy that after 20 years of jihad, sacrifices & hardships I have this pride to see these historic moments.”
The United States and its Western allies scrambled to save citizens of their own countries as well as translators, local embassy staff, civil rights activists, journalists and other Afghans vulnerable to reprisals.
Tuesday’s deadline for all troops to leave was ordered by President Biden, fulfilling an agreement reached by his predecessor Donald Trump with the Taliban to end the US longest war. But having failed to anticipate that the Taliban would so quickly take over the country, Washington and its Nato allies were forced into a hasty evacuation.
The US and its allies have mounted the biggest air evacuation in history, bringing 114,000 of their own citizens and Afghans who helped them over 20 years of war in Afghanistan, but they will still leave behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation.
On Monday morning, two US officials said the “core” diplomatic staff had withdrawn. (with input from agencies)