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

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

Aamir Qureshi | AFP | Getty Photographs

WASHINGTON — America’s longest struggle is over.

The USA 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 army and mentioned he would tackle the nation Tuesday afternoon about his choice to not extend 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 US,” the president mentioned within the assertion.

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

Within the ultimate week of the withdrawal, terrorists from the group ISIS-Ok 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 army cargo plane departed Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport on Monday afternoon Jap time, in line with U.S. Marine Corps Normal 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. army operations within the area, mentioned the Taliban didn’t have direct information of the U.S. army’s time of departure, including that commanders on the bottom “selected to maintain that data very restricted.”

“However they had 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 capable of carry any Individuals out; that exercise most likely ended about 12 hours earlier than our exit. Though we proceed the outreach and would have been ready to carry them on till the final minute, however none of them made it to the airport,” McKenzie mentioned.

The four-star normal 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 army drive together with their households had 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 the earth 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 tackle.

As of early Monday, U.S. and allied forces evacuated 1,200 individuals out of the Afghan capital on 26 army cargo plane flights in a 24-hour interval, in line with 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 wherein we are going to lead with our diplomacy. The army 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 up 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 shouldn’t have army 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 supplied sanctuary to al-Qaeda, the group that deliberate and carried out the devastating terrorist assaults on the World Commerce Middle 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 ultimate weeks of a deliberate exodus of international forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a succession of surprising battlefield beneficial properties.

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

In 2012, at its peak, Bagram noticed greater than 100,000 U.S. troops cross by. It was the most important U.S. army 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 1000’s of U.S. troops to Kabul to assist evacuate U.S. Embassy workers and safe the perimeter of the airport.

In the meantime, 1000’s of Afghans swarmed the tarmac on the airport determined to flee Taliban rule.

Regardless of being vastly outnumbered by the Afghan army, 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 complete 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. army mission in Afghanistan will finish by Aug. 31.

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

“I stand squarely behind my choice. After 20 years I’ve realized the laborious means that there was by no means an excellent time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden mentioned a day after Afghanistan collapsed to the Taliban.

“American troops can’t and shouldn’t be combating in a struggle and dying in a struggle that Afghan forces usually are not prepared to combat for themselves,” Biden mentioned. “We gave them each likelihood to find out their very own future. We couldn’t present them with the need to combat for that future,” he added.

Last U.S. casualties of Afghan struggle

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

Jason Minto | U.S. Air Drive

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 Drive 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 army cargo aircraft to a automobile.

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

The stays of the service members had 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 Drive Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Photographs

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 Drive Col. Chip Hollinger, who oversaw the army 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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