Washington / Kabul (dpa) – With the withdrawal of its last soldiers from Kabul airport, the United States has ended the military operation in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. “I am here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” US General Kenneth McKenzie, who heads US Centcom Central Command, said Monday in a video link with Pentagon reporters.
One minute before midnight
It also ends the military evacuation mission of Americans, allies and Afghans seeking protection. The last US military plane took off from Kabul airport one minute before midnight (local time).
According to the White House on Monday, the United States and its allies on the evacuation mission have brought about 116,700 people to safety since August 14. There are still tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan who want to flee the Taliban – most of them Afghans.
UN gives its opinion on the resolution
The United States and Western partners have repeatedly stressed that there should be the ability to bring people to safety even after the mission is over. On Monday, the UN Security Council increased pressure on Islamist Taliban militants in Afghanistan to respect human rights and allow those who wish to leave the country to pass safely. The most powerful UN body has rarely adopted a resolution to this effect.
US President Joe Biden announced in April that all US troops would be withdrawn unconditionally from Afghanistan by September 11 at the latest. This date marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that triggered the US-led military operation in Afghanistan. As a result, NATO also announced that it would end its international mission. In July, Biden moved the full withdrawal date to August 31.
After Biden’s announcement, the triumphal advance of the Taliban accelerated, militant Islamists took control of one provincial capital after another – Afghan security forces often offered little or no resistance. On August 15, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled abroad, the Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul without a fight and occupied the presidential palace. The US embassy was closed and diplomats fled to the airport.
Kabul airport remained under the control of US troops even after the Taliban came to power. The United States sent an additional 5,000 troops to secure the evacuations. American commanders coordinated with the Taliban. Dozens of Afghans and 13 American soldiers were killed in an attack by the terrorist Islamic State (IS) militia last Thursday outside the airport. ISIS and the Taliban are enemies of each other.