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U.S. ends 20-year conflict in Afghanistan with closing evacuation flights out of Kabul

A handout picture of a C-17 Globemaster III plane at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport, Kabul.

Handout | Getty Pictures Information

WASHINGTON — America’s longest conflict is over.

The USA completed its withdrawal efforts from Kabul’s airport, the Pentagon stated Monday, successfully ending a 20-year battle that started not lengthy after the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.

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

“Whereas the army evacuation is full, the diplomatic mission to make sure extra U.S. residents and eligible Afghans who wish to go away continues,” added McKenzie, who oversees the U.S. army mission within the area.

As of early Monday, U.S. and allied forces evacuated 1,200 folks out of the Afghan capital on 26 army cargo plane flights in a 24-hour interval, in response to the newest figures from the White Home. For the reason that mass evacuations started on Aug. 14, roughly 116,700 folks have been airlifted out of Afghanistan.

About 122,300 folks have been evacuated for the reason that finish of July, together with about 5,500 U.S. residents and their households. McKenzie stated that there have been no Individuals on the final 5 flights out of Kabul.

“We weren’t in a position to 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 stated.

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 power together with their households had been additionally airlifted out on Monday.

McKenzie stated that the Taliban didn’t have direct information of the united statesmilitary’s time of departure, including that commanders on the bottom “selected to maintain that info very restricted.”

“However they had been really very useful and helpful to us as we shut down operations,” McKenzie stated of the Taliban.

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

Rahmat Gul | AP

The Taliban return to energy

The U.S. started its conflict in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the Sept. 11. The Taliban on the time supplied sanctuary to al-Qaida, 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 died within the battle, which additionally claimed the lives of over 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel and civilians.

Now the Taliban are but once more in energy. Within the closing weeks of a deliberate exodus of overseas forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a succession of surprising battlefield beneficial properties.

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, President Joe Biden ordered the complete withdrawal of roughly 3,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Final month, Biden gave an up to date timeline and stated the U.S. army mission in Afghanistan will finish by Aug. 31.

Following the Taliban takeover, Biden defended his determination to depart the war-torn nation.

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

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

Earlier on Monday, as many as five rockets were intercepted by U.S. missile defenses close to Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul, the location the place U.S. forces are sprinting to hold out closing evacuation flights for the reason that Taliban gained management of the nation two weeks in the past.

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated in a press release that Biden was briefed on the rocket assault and reconfirmed that commanders ought to prioritize the safety of U.S. forces on the bottom.

The Pentagon stated Saturday that it had begun its retrograde course of — the withdrawal of U.S. service members. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated that lower than 5,000 service members stay in Afghanistan, including that the U.S. would now not present a precise quantity resulting from safety situations.

On Monday, Kirby stated the U.S. is speaking with the Taliban in regards to the evacuation mission.

“Our commanders on the bottom stay in communication with Taliban leaders across the airfield to deconflict and to forestall miscalculations and misunderstandings, and to this point that communication has been efficient,” Kirby stated throughout a Pentagon briefing.

When requested in regards to the safety state of affairs, Kirby described the threats as dynamic however added that the U.S. will “preserve the potential to guard ourselves and defend ourselves as we proceed to finish the retrograde.”

A State Division spokesman stated Saturday that roughly 250 Individuals are nonetheless in search of evacuation.

Learn extra on the developments in Afghanistan:

Over the weekend, the U.S. performed two identified drone strikes in opposition to ISIS-Okay members believed to be concerned in planning assaults in opposition to U.S. forces in Kabul. The strikes adopted a suicide bombing assault that resulted within the deaths of 13 American service members.

The Pentagon stated Sunday that it was assessing the outcomes of the drone strikes, following experiences of civilian casualties.

“We’re conscious of experiences of civilian casualties following our strike on a car in Kabul right this moment,” U.S. Navy Capt. Invoice City, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, stated in a press release.

“We’d be deeply saddened by any potential lack of harmless life,” he added.

Closing U.S. casualties of Afghan conflict

The Pentagon on Saturday released 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 close to the gates of Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport, which killed 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and one Military soldier, is beneath 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 instances from a C-17 army cargo aircraft to a car.

The stays had been flown from Kabul to Kuwait after which to Germany earlier than arriving in Dover.

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 Pictures

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

It marked Biden’s first time attending a dignified transfer since changing into president.

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 army logistics of the switch.

This story is growing. Please examine again for updates.

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