As US troops sped to finish evacuating Americans and Afghan refugees before the Aug.ust31 deadline, a photo of the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, boarding a plane at night attached on a post on Twitter has marked the last soldier to leave Afghanistan, Fox News reports.
Posted with the message “In awe of our Sky Dragon Soldiers”, the photo marks the end of the two decades long US presence in Afghanistan, its longest ever military conflict.
CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie confirmed Monday that the last US service members had departed Afghanistan though the end if the US’s involvement has still left some issues unresolved, including the fate of hundreds of Americans the US troops were forced to leave behind.
Though officials are still working to determine the exact number of US citizens that remain in Afghanistan, State Secretary Antony Blinken said their number is under 200 and likely closer to 100.
They’ll also leave behind some equipment that McKenzie said it was still mission capable, like the C-RAM system that intercepted the rocket attacks the last couple of days and that might prove itself useful again since the threats from ISIS-K didn’t ceased to loom over the evacuation.
The end of the two decades long US military experiment in Afghanistan was marred by chaos and death of nearly 200 Afghans and 13 US Marines due to the hastened evacuation efforts with President Biden sticking to his deadline to withdraw despite repeated pleas from both US and the Allied countries to extend the mission until they evacuate everyone who wanted and could do that.
Meanwhile, the US military and coalition aircraft flew out more than 123,000 civilians, including 6,000 American citizens, over the course of evacuations, focusing during the last days on keeping US troops as well as “demilitarizing” or disabling the equipment that was left behind at the airport.
At the same time, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) barred US civilian airlines from flying over the entirety of Afghanistan except for one high-altitude jet route along the eastern border for overflights.
Any US civil carriers must receive prior authorization from the FAA if it wants to fly into/out of or over Afghanistan since the Kabul Airport is not controlled by anyone and the air traffic control is not being carried out.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated in his Twitter on Monday that Afghanistan has achieved full independence and has finally become free now that the US withdrawal is complete.
The spokesman of the Taliban political office in Qatar, Mohammad Naeem, has also congratulated the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban fighters with the end of foreign military presence in the country.