Video Producer: Mayank Chawla
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj
Twenty years after it invaded Afghanistan, the United States on Monday, 30 August, announced the completion of withdrawal of its forces from the country, leaving the war-torn nation in the clutches of militant organisation Taliban.
"The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan: Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the @82ndABNDiv, @18airbornecorps boards an @usairforce C-17 on August 30th, 2021, ending the U.S. mission in Kabul," the US Department of Defense said in a statement on Twitter.
The deadline for the withdrawal had been stipulated by President Joe Biden, in accordance with the Doha Agreement 2020 between the US and the Taliban.
End of Largest Non-Combatant Evacuation in US History
"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 September 11th, 2001," US General McKenzie observed in a statement. The US army had been instated in Afghanistan soon after terror group Al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks.
The Marine Corps General indicated that the evacuation mission completed on Monday was the largest non-combatant evacuation in the US military’s history.
"In total, US military and coalition aircraft combined to evacuate more than 123,000 civilians, which were all enabled by US military service members, who were securing and operating the airfield," he noted.
President Joe Biden will address the nation on Tuesday, and will speak about the completion of the withdrawal mission.
"Tomorrow afternoon, I will address the American people on my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond 8/31," Biden was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
'Afghanistan Has Gained Complete Independence': Taliban
Celebratory gunshots were fired into the air in Kabul by the Taliban to denote the US military's complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"The last US soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence," Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera TV.
While the military evacuation is complete, the US' diplomatic mission to ensure the evacuation of additional US citizens and eligible Afghans will continue.
The Situation in Afghanistan
The Taliban's forceful takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August has jolted the country into a humanitarian crisis, with many citizens desperately queuing at the Kabul airport to flee the hardline Islamist rule.
As it took the reigns of the nation, the militant organisation, in an attempt to dispel the fears of a rule of terror and orthodoxy, had promised security for all.
However, a leaked UN document had subsequently indicated that the Taliban had been conducting "targeted door-to-door visits" to their opponents – persons who worked with the US and NATO forces alongside the Afghanistan government, AFP had reported on 20 August.
As chaos ensued in Afghanistan, countries have been scrambling to evacuate their citizens from the crisis-ridden nation.
On 26 August, an IS-orchestrated blast at the Kabul airport had killed 13 members of the US troops who had been standing guard at the airport to facilitate the evacuation operations. Over 170 civilians were also killed in the attack by the Taliban's adversary.
A day later, the US had retaliated with a drone strike on the IS, killing a target in Nangarhar.
(With inputs from Al Jazeera and AFP)