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Last American soldier leaves Kabul, ending 20-year war in Afghanistan

Major General Chris Donahue was the last US service member to leave Afghanistan, signifying the end of 20 years of war.

Last American soldier leaves Kabul, ending 20-year war in Afghanistan
Image source: Twitter/DeptofDefense

The United States has withdrawn its military in full from Afghanistan, ending a 20-year war in the country. The last C-17 plane left from Afghanistan at 3:29 p.m. EDT Monday, closing curtains on a war that has cost the lives of many American soldiers and Afghanistan civilians through the years. It was on October 7, 2001, that America launched Afghanistan war against the Taliban in response to the 9/11 attacks. Twenty years later, America has been forced to hasten its departure as the Taliban takes over the country once again. “Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, 2001,” said Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command, reported The Huffington Post. 



 

 



 


McKenzie further confirmed that he's 100% certain that every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan, adding that no evacuees left at the airport when the last U.S. flight left Kabul. It remains to be seen if the Marine Corps General was also referring to Afghans who worked with America and are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban in the coming days. In what has been one of the largest airlifts in history, more than 123,000 people were evacuated since August 14. The Pentagon confirmed that there were no non-military Americans on the last military flights. Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that some have stated they want to continue in Afghanistan. The White House further added that roughly 6,000 Americans were evacuated or otherwise have left Afghanistan in that same time.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 1: Mohboba, 7-years-old, stands against a bullet-ridden wall as she waits to be seen at a health clinic March 1, 2002 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mohboba has a skin ailment called Lashmania which is a bacterial infection that plagues a great deal of poverty stricken children in Afghanistan. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

 

“I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left” in Afghanistan to be able to leave, said McKenzie. “I believe that we’re going to be able to get those people out. I think we’re also going to negotiate very hard, very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out. The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before.” 



 

 



 

 

While the Taliban set a deadline of August 31 to leave Afghanistan, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the Taliban has said it will allow people to travel outside of Afghanistan after the deadline. “That does not mean we trust what they say, but there is an enormous amount of international leverage,” said Psaki. “There is a discussion about what our diplomatic presence may look like moving forward. Our current plan is to not have an ongoing diplomatic presence in Afghanistan” for now, but the U.S. would like to find ways to work with Afghans."

An Afghan border crossing at the Khyber Pass manned by British troops during the Third Anglo-Afghan War, it is marked by a sign which reads 'it is absolutely forbidden to cross this border into Afghan territory'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

In the days leading up to the deadline, the airport was hit by a suicide bomb that killed 180 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members near Kabul’s international airport. ISIS-K took responsibility for the attack and McKenzie believes that ISIS-K poses a serious threat. “They remain a very lethal force, and I think we would assess that probably there are at least 2,000 hardcore ISIS fighters in Afghanistan now, and, of course, many of those come from the prisons that were opened a few days ago,” said McKenzie of ISIS-K. He opined that ISIS-K could pose a problem to the Taliban in the coming days. America responded with a drone attack targeting ISIS-K and ended up killing ten members of one Afghan family, including seven children, reported CNN.



 


Biden, who has been under criticism for the manner in which the evacuation was handled, addressed the withdrawal. “For now, I urge all Americans to join me in grateful prayer tonight for three things,” said Biden. “First, for our troops and diplomats who carried out this mission of mercy in Kabul and at tremendous risk with such unparalleled results: an airlift that evacuated tens of thousands more people than any imagined possible. “Second, to the network of volunteers and veterans who helped identify those needing evacuations, guide them to the airport, and provide support along the way. And third, to everyone who is now ― and who will ― welcome our Afghan allies to their new homes around the world and in the United States.” 

AFGANISTAN - NOVEMBER 7: An Afghan man and his son watch as soldiers from the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division prepare to sweep their home November 7, 2002 in southeastern Afghanistan. Soldiers discovered over a dozen mines and grenades, 14 rocket propelled grenades, and plastic explosives as they searched several compounds as part of Operation Alamo Sweep. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)

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