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Biden says the period of U.S. nation constructing is over as he marks the top of the Afghanistan battle

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden in an handle to the nation Tuesday gave a full-throated protection of his choice to finish the U.S. battle in Afghanistan after almost 20 years of battle, declaring the period of enormous U.S. navy deployments to rebuild different nations as over.

Biden’s handle got here simply 11 days earlier than the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults that precipitated the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan.

“My fellow People, the battle in Afghanistan is now over,” Biden mentioned from the White Home.

“I am the fourth president who has confronted the difficulty of whether or not and when to finish this battle,” he mentioned.

“Once I was working for president I made a dedication that I might finish this battle, and right this moment I’ve honored that dedication. It was time to be sincere with the American folks; we not had a transparent function in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan,” he mentioned.

“This choice about Afghanistan is not only about Afghanistan, it is about ending an period of main navy operations to remake different nations,” the president mentioned.

At 3:29 p.m. ET on Monday, one minute earlier than midnight Kabul time, the final C-17 cargo plane carrying U.S. forces took off from Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport, successfully ending America’s two-decade navy marketing campaign in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, ousted from energy by the U.S. shortly after the 9/11 assaults, now management almost all the nation.

The departure of U.S. forces got here on the finish of a colossal 17-day humanitarian evacuation of 123,000 folks determined to flee Taliban rule. Of these, 6,000 had been U.S. residents.

Within the closing days of the mission, a suicide bomber affiliated with ISIS detonated an explosive close to the gates of the airport, killing 13 U.S. service members and greater than 100 Afghans.

Biden praised the service members who gave their lives as heroes and thanked all members of the navy, the diplomatic corps and the intelligence group who risked their security for what he referred to as a mission of mercy.

On Sunday, the president and first woman Jill Biden traveled to Dover Air Power Base to satisfy privately with the households of the fallen earlier than observing the dignified switch of American flag-draped caskets from a C-17 navy cargo aircraft to a automobile.

“We owe them and their households a debt of gratitude that may by no means be repaid, however we must always by no means ever overlook,” the president mentioned of the fallen on Tuesday.

Although Biden mentioned he took full accountability for the choice to withdraw by Aug. 31, he pushed again towards critics who say the White Home was unprepared for the chaos that ensued as American forces exited and the Taliban quickly seized Afghanistan.

The president mentioned he tasked his nationwide safety crew to organize for each eventuality, together with a swift Taliban takeover, and blamed the Afghan authorities for the nation’s speedy collapse.

“We had been prepared when the Afghan safety forces after twenty years of combating for his or her nation and shedding hundreds of their very own didn’t maintain on so long as anybody anticipated,” Biden mentioned.

“We had been prepared when the folks of Afghanistan watched their very own authorities collapse and the president flee amid the corruption and malfeasance, handing over the nation to their enemy, the Taliban, and considerably rising the danger to U.S. personnel and our allies,” Biden mentioned.

“Let me be clear, leaving on Aug. 31 will not be because of an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to avoid wasting American lives,” the president mentioned.

“It was time to finish this battle,” Biden mentioned. “I used to be not going to increase this without end battle, and I used to be not extending a without end exit.”

Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the four-star commander of U.S. Central Command, mentioned no People had been aboard the ultimate 5 flights out of Kabul on Monday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned throughout a Monday night handle that fewer than 200 People are nonetheless looking for evacuation.

McKenzie, who oversees the U.S. navy mission within the area, added that there have been no evacuees left on the airfield when the final C-17 took off. All U.S. service members and Afghan troops who helped defend the airport, together with their households, had been additionally airlifted out on Monday, in response to the overall.

Biden in his Tuesday handle mentioned that “90% of People in Afghanistan who needed to depart had been in a position to go away.” The U.S. will maintain the Taliban accountable for guaranteeing protected passage to anybody who nonetheless needs to depart the nation, he mentioned.

“For these remaining People, there isn’t a deadline. We stay dedicated to get them out in the event that they wish to come out,” the president mentioned.

The U.S. and NATO launched their navy marketing campaign in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the 9/11 assaults. The Taliban on the time supplied sanctuary to al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that deliberate and carried out the devastating assaults on the World Commerce Middle and the Pentagon.

About 2,500 U.S. service members have died within the battle, which additionally claimed the lives of greater than 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel and civilians. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have price U.S. taxpayers greater than $1.57 trillion collectively since Sept. 11, 2001, in response to a Protection Division report.

Biden, in his handle Tuesday, mentioned the U.S. should be taught from the errors of its two-decade navy intervention in Afghanistan. The U.S. achieved its mission to decimate al Qaeda and kill the terrorist group’s chief, Osama bin Laden, a decade in the past, the president mentioned.

Biden vowed to defend the U.S. towards evolving threats from terrorist teams, corresponding to ISIS, with out getting the U.S. concerned in one other floor battle. The U.S. should now confront challenges from highly effective adversaries corresponding to Russia and China as properly, he mentioned.

“As we flip the web page on the international coverage that has guided our nation during the last twenty years, we have to be taught from our errors,” Biden mentioned.

“First, we should set missions with clear achievable targets, not ones we’ll by no means attain. And second, we should keep clearly centered on the basic nationwide safety pursuits of America.”

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