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U.S. ends 20-year struggle in Afghanistan with remaining evacuation flights out of Kabul

A US Air Power plane takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021.

Aamir Qureshi | AFP | Getty Photos

WASHINGTON — America’s longest struggle is over.

America completed its withdrawal efforts from the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Pentagon mentioned Monday, successfully ending a two-decade battle that started not lengthy after the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.

After the Pentagon’s announcement, President Joe Biden, in a press release Monday night, thanked the American navy and mentioned he would handle the nation Tuesday afternoon about his determination to not delay the U.S. mission in Afghanistan past Aug. 31.

“The previous 17 days have seen our troops execute the most important airlift in U.S. historical past, evacuating over 120,000 U.S. residents, residents of our allies, and Afghan allies of the USA,” the president mentioned within the assertion.

“They’ve carried out it with unmatched braveness, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year navy presence in Afghanistan has ended.”

Within the remaining week of the withdrawal, terrorists from the group ISIS-Okay killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans in an assault outdoors the airport. U.S. forces retaliated and launched strikes in a bid to thwart different assaults.

The final C-17 navy cargo plane departed Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport on Monday afternoon Japanese time, in response to U.S. Marine Corps Basic Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, finishing a large evacuation effort that flew greater than 116,000 individuals out of Afghanistan over the previous two weeks.

McKenzie, who oversees U.S. navy operations within the area, mentioned the Taliban didn’t have direct information of the U.S. navy’s time of departure, including that commanders on the bottom “selected to maintain that info very restricted.”

“However they have been really very useful and helpful to us as we closed down operations,” McKenzie mentioned of the Taliban.

McKenzie mentioned there have been no Individuals on the final 5 flights out of Kabul.

“We weren’t in a position to convey any Individuals out; that exercise in all probability ended about 12 hours earlier than our exit. Though we proceed the outreach and would have been ready to convey them on till the final minute, however none of them made it to the airport,” McKenzie mentioned.

The four-star basic added that there have been no evacuees left on the airfield when the final C-17 took off and confirmed that each one U.S. service members and troops from the Afghan navy pressure together with their households have been additionally airlifted out on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned afterward Monday that fewer than 200 Individuals are nonetheless in search of evacuation.

“Our dedication to them and to all Individuals in Afghanistan and in all places on this planet continues. The safety and welfare of Individuals overseas stays the State Division’s most significant and enduring mission,” the nation’s prime diplomat mentioned in a night handle.

As of early Monday, U.S. and allied forces evacuated 1,200 individuals out of the Afghan capital on 26 navy cargo plane flights in a 24-hour interval, in response to the newest figures from the White Home.

About 122,800 individuals have been evacuated because the finish of July, together with about 6,000 U.S. residents and their households.

“A brand new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It is one through which we’ll lead with our diplomacy. The navy mission is over. A brand new diplomatic mission has begun,” Blinken mentioned.

Blinken added that the U.S. had suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul and can switch these operations to Doha, Qatar.

“We are going to stay vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves and can keep sturdy counterterrorism capabilities within the area to neutralize these threats if crucial — as we demonstrated prior to now few days by putting ISIS facilitators and even threats in Afghanistan, and as we do in locations all over the world the place we would not have navy forces on the bottom,” Blinken mentioned.

The Taliban return to energy

Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood within the metropolis of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Rahmat Gul | AP

The U.S. started its struggle in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the assaults of Sept. 11. The Taliban on the time offered sanctuary to al-Qaeda, the group that deliberate and carried out the devastating terrorist assaults on the World Commerce Heart and the Pentagon.

Since then, 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.

Now the Taliban are but once more in energy.

Within the remaining weeks of a deliberate exodus of international forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a succession of surprising battlefield positive aspects.

The Taliban seized Bagram Air Base, a sprawling and once-stalwart U.S. navy set up, lower than two months after U.S. commanders transferred it to the Afghan Nationwide Safety and Protection Power.

In 2012, at its peak, Bagram noticed greater than 100,000 U.S. troops move by way of. It was the most important U.S. navy set up in Afghanistan.

Because the Taliban moved nearer to the capital, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation, and Western nations rushed to evacuate embassies amid a deteriorating safety scenario.

Biden ordered the deployment of hundreds of U.S. troops to Kabul to assist evacuate U.S. Embassy workers and safe the perimeter of the airport.

In the meantime, hundreds of Afghans swarmed the tarmac on the airport determined to flee Taliban rule.

Regardless of being vastly outnumbered by the Afghan navy, which has lengthy been assisted by U.S. and NATO coalition forces, the Taliban seized the presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 15.

In April, Biden ordered the total withdrawal of roughly 3,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. He later gave an up to date timeline saying the U.S. navy mission in Afghanistan will finish by Aug. 31.

Following the Taliban takeover, Biden defended his determination that the U.S. would depart the war-torn nation.

“I stand squarely behind my determination. After 20 years I’ve discovered the onerous means that there was by no means a great time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden mentioned a day after Afghanistan collapsed to the Taliban.

“American troops can not and shouldn’t be preventing in a struggle and dying in a struggle that Afghan forces aren’t keen to battle for themselves,” Biden mentioned. “We gave them each likelihood to find out their very own future. We couldn’t present them with the desire to battle for that future,” he added.

Ultimate U.S. casualties of Afghan struggle

On this picture offered by the U.S. Air Power, flag-draped switch circumstances line the within of a transport airplane Sunday earlier than a dignified switch at Dover Air Power Base, Del. The fallen service members have been killed whereas supporting evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Jason Minto | U.S. Air Power

The Pentagon on Saturday launched the names of the 13 U.S. service members killed after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive close to the gates of Kabul’s airport.

The Aug. 26 assault, which killed 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and one Military soldier, is underneath investigation.

On Sunday, the president and first girl 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 airplane to a automobile.

A dignified switch is a solemn course of through which the stays of fallen service members are carried from an plane to a ready automobile. It’s carried out for each U.S. service member killed in motion.

The stays of the service members have been flown from Kabul to Kuwait after which to Germany earlier than arriving at Dover.

Sunday marked the primary time Biden has attended a dignified switch since he turned president.

US President Joe Biden attends the dignified switch of the stays of a fallen service member at Dover Air Power Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Photos

Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees Mark Milley additionally attended the dignified switch, together with U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, U.S. Military Chief of Employees Gen. James McConville, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and U.S. Air Power Col. Chip Hollinger, who oversaw the navy logistics of the switch.

The fallen embrace:

Marine Corps Employees Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Web page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Military Employees Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.

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