US exits Afghanistan, Taliban say after '20 years of killing soldiers'
As American troops made a hasty exit from Afghanistan after 20 years, the Taliban said it killed thousands of soldiers and inflicted unprecedented financial crisis.
Ahmadullah Wasiq, the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, said, "Occupying US troops withdrew from Afghanistan after a 20-year military mission, killing and wounding thousands of soldiers and inflicting unprecedented financial losses."
Celebratory gunfire rang out in Kabul after the completion of the US pullout. The Taliban fighters watched the last US planes disappear into the night sky and then fired their guns into the air and lit crackers, celebrating victory after the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf said, "The last US soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence." However, a contingent of Americans, estimated to be around 100 people, who wanted to leave Afghanistan are still stranded in the country.
The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America's longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 US service members, some barely older than the war.
Hours ahead of President Joe Biden's Tuesday deadline for shutting down a final airlift, and thus ending the US war, Air Force transport planes carried a remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport. Thousands of troops had spent a harrowing two weeks protecting the airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.
In announcing the completion of the evacuation and war effort. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 pm Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul.
He said a number of American citizens, likely numbering in "the very low hundreds," were left behind, and that he believes they will still be able to leave the country.