Kabul: The Taliban have proclaimed “full independence” for Afghanistan after the last US soldiers flew out following 20 years of war.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said early Tuesday that “American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence.”
The US confirmed its last forces withdrew ahead of a Tuesday deadline, ending America’s longest war and a frantic two-week evacuation effort. The Taliban seized most of the country in a matter of days earlier this month.
Taliban fighters watched the last US planes disappear into the night sky around midnight Monday and then fired their guns into the air, celebrating victory after a 20-year insurgency in Afghanistan that drove the world’s most powerful military out of one of the poorest countries.
The departure of the cargo planes marked the end of a massive airlift in which tens of thousands of people fled Afghanistan, fearful of the return of Taliban rule after they took over most of the country and rolled into the capital earlier this month.
“The last five aircraft have left, it’s over!” said Hemad Sherzad, a Taliban fighter stationed at Kabul’s international airport. “I cannot express my happiness in words. … Our 20 years of sacrifice worked.”
In Washington, Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, announced the completion of America’s longest war and the evacuation effort, saying the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3,29 p.m. EDT — one minute before midnight Monday in Kabul. (AP)