The US military ended its withdrawal from Afghanistan to end a brutal 20-year war that was the longest in America. It started and ended with the hardline Taliban in power, despite billions of dollars being tried to rebuild the conflict-free country.
Gunfire erupted in Kabul in the early hours of Tuesday, and angry senior Taliban officials viewed the event as a watermelon.
The retreat came after the difficult last days of a friendly mission to evacuate thousands of thousands of Americans and Afghans who helped the U.S.-led war effort — and who killed many Afghan and 13 U.S. troops in a suicide attack last week.
This attack — claimed by ISIS Afghan shelling — has made Kabul’s risky U.S.-run international airport edgy urgent and has also uncovered possible problems ahead of Afghanistan as the Taliban move to form a government and actually govern.
“I am here to announce the end of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens,” US General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Monday Washington time.
“Today’s withdrawal marks both the end of the military component of the evacuation and the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11.”
The last flight took off at 1929 GMT on Monday – just before the start of Tuesday in Kabul, he said.
The return to power two weeks ago of the Taliban movement, which fell in 2001 when the US invaded 9/11 in recovery for the emergency, triggered a massive exodus of people who feared a new Version of the hardline Islamist rule.
The evacuation flights took more than 123,000 people out of Kabul airport, according to McKenzie, but he admitted that not everyone wanted to leave, and that the “diplomatic mission” for others to leave continues.
The UN Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution calling on the Taliban to honor a commitment to leave the people free in the days of Afghanistan, and to give access to the UN and other aid agencies, but no “safe zone” in Kabul. But talks are underway about who now runs Kabul airport. The Taliban have asked Turkey to handle the logistics while maintaining control over security, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not yet accepted the offer. And it was not immediately clear which airlines agreed to fly in and out of Kabul.
The regional ISIS-K group, rivals of the Taliban, posed the greatest threat to the retreat when it carried out a devastating suicide bombing outside the airport last week.On Monday, they claimed to have fired six rockets at the airport. A Taliban official said the attack was stopped by missile defense systems at the airport.
An AFP photographer has seen a wrecked car with a rocket system that can still be seen in the back seat.
‘Potential loss of innocent life’
The U.S. said on Sunday it had carried out a drone strike on a vehicle threatening Kabul airport, which is linked to the regional ISIS chapter — its second target IS-K in recent days. But on Monday, it looked as if it had made a terrible mistake.
Members of a family told AFP they believe a fatal mistake was made and that 10 civilians were killed. “My brother and his four children were killed. I lost my little daughter. Nephews and nieces,” Aimal Ahmadi told AFP