BREAKING: Taliban fighters celebrate US’ departure from Afghanistan with wild gunfire
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Following a chaotic airlift nearly 20 years after it invaded the country in the wake of 9/11, the US has finally withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan. More than 122,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul since August 14, the day before the Taliban regained control of the country two decades after being removed from power by the US-led invasion in 2001.
Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, made the announcement at a Pentagon news briefing after the last troops sent to evacuate Americans and Afghans at risk following the Taliban’s return to power flew out of the capital Kabul.
The chief US diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last C-17 flight out, Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon news briefing.
The US 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.
The evacuations became even more perilous when a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State – enemy of both the West and the Taliban – killed 13 US service members and scores of Afghans waiting by the airport gates on Thursday.
The operation came to an end before the 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 pull-out.
The Biden administration said it expects the Taliban to continue allowing safe passage for Americans and others to leave Afghanistan after the US military withdrawal is completed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UN Security Council resolution “makes clear that the international community stands with Afghans”.
He added: “There can be no return to repression or terror. We will push as one voice for safe passage, humanitarian access & respect for human rights.”
More to follow…
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