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US fully withdraws from Afghanistan, officially ending 20 years of occupation

US soldiers board an US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021. (AFP photo)

The United States has fully withdrawn its forces from Afghanistan to officially end 20 years of occupation.

The final US evacuation flight left the Kabul airport although the US failed to gather hundreds of Americans left behind on the Afghan soil.

“I believe that we’re going to get those people out, I think we’re also going to negotiate very hard and very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out,” Central Command leader Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie said. “Our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before.”

The US and its allies have reportedly evacuated over 123,000 people since the end of July.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. but I think if we stayed another ten days … we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out that we wanted to get out and there still would have been people who would have been disappointed with that,” McKenzie said. “We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure but we were not able to bring any Americans out… None of them made it to the airport and were able to be accommodated.”

The last C-17 left the Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 pm ET and cleared Afghanistan's airspace.

McKenzie asserted that ”every single US service member is now out of Afghanistan.”

Taliban 'made history'

With celebratory gunfire heard in the Afghan capital Kabul, Taliban said the US withdrawal meant they had made history again.

"We made history again. The 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and NATO ended tonight," said Anas Haqqani, a senior official. "I am very happy that after 20 years of jihad, sacrifices & hardships I have this pride to see these historic moments."

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, urging Taliban to allow those intending to exit Afghanistan to do so.

It also condemned the deadly blasts at Kabul airport on Thursday, which killed more than 150 people and injured over 200 others.

“The Security Council expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment to facilitate safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or after August 31,” said US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

It was not immediately clear whether the American envoy was worried about the Afghan nation or the hundreds of Americans left behind by US forces in the country, now run by Taliban.

“Consistent with the right to leave any country, including one’s own, everybody must be allowed to safely leave Afghanistan, for whatever reason, whenever they want, by air or by land. This is of the utmost importance to us.”

Since the invasion kicked off in the Bush administration, the US approach towards Afghanistan has been handled by multiple administrations, all of which had vowed to pull back American forces and military equipment from the war-ravaged country.

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