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Last US forces leave Afghanistan after almost 20 years

CM 30/08/2021 2

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The United States has completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, US officials told Reuters on Monday, following a chaotic airlift nearly 20 years after it invaded the country in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on America.
More than 122,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul since August 14, the day before the Taliban regained control of the country two decades after being removed from power by the US-led invasion in 2001.
The US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, spoke to Reuters after the US last troops sent to evacuate Americans and Afghans at risk following the Taliban’s return to power flew out of the capital Kabul.

Having failed to anticipate the Taliban would prevail so quickly, Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit, leaving behind thousands of Afghans who helped them and may have qualified for evacuation and others who feel at risk.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, told a Pentagon news briefing.
“But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,” McKenzie said, adding that the chief US diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last C-17 flight out.
US soldiers walk near a rocket launcher missile at Basmaya military base in Baghdad (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED AMEEN)US soldiers walk near a rocket launcher missile at Basmaya military base in Baghdad (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED AMEEN)
The United States and its Western allies scrambled to save citizens of their own countries as well as translators, local embassy staff, civil rights activists, journalists, and other Afghans vulnerable to reprisals.
The evacuations became even more perilous when a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State – the enemy of both the West and the Taliban – killed 13 US service members and scores of Afghans waiting by the airport gates on Thursday.
The operation came to an end before the Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who inherited a troop withdrawal deal made with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump and decided earlier this year to complete the pull-out.
Biden, who faced intense criticism at home and abroad over his decisions, promised after the bloody Kabul airport attack to hunt down the people responsible.


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