The Taliban and their supporters have celebrated defeating the United States and the group's total return to power in several cities across Afghanistan, after the last US soldier left the country.
Images shared online on Tuesday showed the militants walking through the Kabul airport and celebrating their victory as they fired their guns into the air, hours after a US military C-17 carried the last American troops out of Afghanistan, formally bringing to an end the 20-year American occupation.
Images showed the militants putting on US military uniforms, which were left at the Kabul airport, and brandishing American firearms to pose for a photo op while waving the Taliban's white flag.
Photos also emerged showing the militants posing with the military hardware left behind by US troops, and inside a cockpit of a cargo plane, which belonged to the Afghan air force.
"Congratulations to Afghanistan [...] this victory belongs to us all. [The defeat of the US is a] big lesson for other invaders and for our future generation", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid during a speech at the airport following the withdrawal of the last US troops.
He insisted that Taliban security forces would be "gentle and nice," reiterating the group's promise of a softer form of governance compared to its previous one.
Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Khost, Taliban supporters held a mock funeral and paraded coffins draped with American and NATO flags through the city's streets. Some people held guns up in the air, while others waved Taliban flags.
"August 31 is our formal Freedom Day. On this day, American occupying forces and NATO forces fled the country," Taliban official Qari Saeed Khosti told local television station Zhman TV during its coverage of the event.
In the southern province of Kandahar, thousands of Taliban supporters poured onto the streets, waving flags and shouting "God is greatest."
A chorus of car horns filled the main square of Afghanistan's second-biggest city, and a joyous crowd of men and boys in traditional clothing hailed the Taliban victory as they celebrated the US exit from the country.
An AFP reporter saw crowds of supporters from surrounding villages pour into the city after news broke of the US departure.
"We have defeated the superpower! Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers!" they shouted from pick-up trucks and motorbikes as they drove around the city, waving automatic weapons.
Taliban member Maulvi Zakerullah, who was among those celebrating on the streets, also said whatever was left from foreign forces, they would use to defend the country in the future.
The abandoning of military hardware by the departing American troops has been widely criticized by opponents of the administration of US President Joe Biden.
In response to the criticism, General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, has assured that the US troops had "demilitarized" the weapons.
However, recently posted videos on social media from Afghanistan alongside other videos of celebratory gunfire in the capital, Kabul, have cast doubt on McKenzie's words, as the Taliban have been spotted riding Humvees and allegedly flying at least one Black Hawk helicopter for patrolling purposes.
The United States fully withdrew its forces from Afghanistan before the Taliban's August 31 deadline to officially end 20 years of war and occupation. The final US evacuation flight left the Kabul airport even though hundreds of Americans were left behind on Afghan soil.
The US and its NATO allies launched a joint military operation to speedily evacuate foreign citizens and Afghan allies after the Taliban toppled the Kabul government. More than 122,000 people have reportedly been evacuated from Kabul since August 14, the day before the Taliban took control of the country.
However, a top US military commander revealed that they had failed to evacuate all foreign citizens, as well as the Afghan allies.
The Taliban have yet to announce a government.