The final U.S. military evacuation flights have departed Kabul’s International airport, just 24 hours before President Biden's artificial self-imposed withdrawal deadline, leaving behind hundreds of American citizens and Afghan allies as the Pentagon declared the end of the longest U.S war.
"I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. The last C-17 lifted off from HKIA this afternoon at 3:29 pm East Coast time. And the last manned aircraft has now cleared the airspace above Afghanistan. The last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan," CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie announced Monday afternoon at a Pentagon briefing.
"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," McKenzie added.
McKenzie noted that "every single US service member: is now out of Afghanistan, but acknowledged "we did not get out everybody we had wanted to get out." At least hundreds of Americans were left behind and are seen as hostages to the Taliban.
The Taliban marked the final departure of U.S forces with celebratory gunfire in the streets of Kabul.
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The shocking announcement capped off a chaotic two weeks withdrawal effort marked with desperate Americans, Afghan allies, and citizens of Allied nations scrambling to evacuate, followed by an ISIS-K suicide bomb attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghans Thursday at an airport entrance.