KABUL, Afghanistan—With the roar of a U.S. Armed forces cargo aircraft lumbering into the night skies over Afghanistan’s Taliban-held capital, the critical U.S. Troops departed the country at nearly the hit of midnight Monday, ending America’s longest war and also leaving lasting but disparate wounds the cut across two nations.

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The momentous last scenes played the end in darkness. However Tuesday’s first light marked the dawning of incontrovertible knowledge: Afghans had once again been ceded into the hands of the Taliban, the medieval-minded Islamist group that horrified the human being with that cruelties before being toppled in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

In a gesture by the Biden administration that was possibly intended to lug closure to Americans but instead bestowed a bitterness aftertaste of defeat, the final U.S. Withdrawal come a dozen days prior to the 20th anniversary the the Sept. 11 strikes carried the end by Al Qaeda, which used Afghanistan together a staging ground.


The last U.S. Pressures flew out of Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan, the Pentagon stated Monday, bringing under the curtain ~ above America’s longest war.

Death stalked and also circled until the very end. In a battle that expense the stays of virtually 2,400 U.S. Company members, a final round the bloodletting come Thursday in the kind of a suicide assault by Taliban rival Islamic State that killed 13 young troops and left much more than 170 Afghans dead.

So long did this war last the to many, if no most, Americans, Afghanistan had actually slipped in and also out of consciousness, choose a disappearing Instagram story, till it to be all however forgotten.

The war was overshadowed by the 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq, its intends morphing and also muddying through passing years. It wore on amid a dramatic shift in American politics significant by rancor and division that led to the choice of president Trump, that in 2020 signed a address the Taliban come pull the end U.S. Troops. The relocate undercut Afghanistan’s fragile government.

The conflict tested 4 American presidents, left hundreds of soldiers maimed, plowed ahead even after the death of Al Qaeda’s chieftain, Osama bin Laden, and marked the latest destructive blow to the picture of an America that thought itself a pressure for great in the world. The reckoning is quiet resonating at home and abroad, a stark reminder that U.S. Forays into other lands regularly have lasting aftermath — and also end v a degree of humiliation.

For Afghans, the war lugged countless new graves and also frequent sheep of abject misery. However also, especially in Kabul, the U.S.-led army presence heralded a generation of financial opportunity and also freedom — specifically for women, who came out from in ~ burqas to occupational as journalists, teachers and also human civil liberties activists. All this is now in jeopardy, also as the Taliban attempts to to convince the people that it will certainly not dominion as before.

Like lot of the war, this denouement to be a lengthy time coming but unfolded in a headlong rush.



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The leader the the U.S. Central Command, marine Gen. Kenneth F. “Frank” McKenzie, said the critical liftoff of an American army aircraft came one minute before midnight in Kabul — just before the begin of Tuesday, the day collection by president Biden together the deadline because that the leave of U.S. Troops.

Within moment of the final U.S. Plane’s takeoff, Taliban fighters rapidly moved into Hamid Karzai worldwide Airport, which had been the step of a huge U.S.-led airlift that carried more than 116,000 civilization out of the country — and also into uncertain stays — since the militant team seized power 2 weeks earlier in a rapid but almost bloodless offensive.

As if to indicate the dizzying turnabout, the group’s foot soldiers surged ~ above the airfield put on U.S.-supplied uniforms and also carrying once-coveted U.S.-made weapons and also gear such together night-vision goggles. Lock fired salvos into the air and shouted “Allahu akbar!’’

The last C-17 cargo airplane to depart carried the command of the 82nd Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, and also Ross Wilson, the exhilaration U.S. Ambassador, who remained on at the airport ~ the embassy to be shuttered two weeks earlier. Strings the tracers lit the skies as the last U.S. Warplane — offering cover for the hulking C-17 listed below — flew toward the horizon, the sound of its engine fading.

Below, some of the arriving Taliban fighters appeared befuddled by their new domain; one walked as much as a metal gate and also fiddled unsuccessfully v the handle, then tried come bash it right into submission. In cavernous hangars, the fighters uncovered odd finds: boxes of army MREs, or meals ready to eat, device boxes and an especially huge power saw.

One Taliban formation posed in front of an assortment of partially disassembled Chinook helicopters, calling because that a Taliban cameraman to record the moment. The guys lifted American M4 rifles into the air together they cheered.


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Though facing an overwhelming challenges of governance, the Taliban, that is white flags scrawled through black letters, is totally back in control. Countless Afghans fear for your future, despite assurances that the group will enable women to participate in public life and will not look for vengeance on those that opposed it.

Shortly before the last U.S. Withdrawal, the United nations Security Council referred to as on the Taliban to follow v on promises to uphold human being rights, enable people to leave the nation if they wished and not enable terror teams to take root. But in a feasible portent of a split international an answer to the Taliban takeover, China and Russia abstained.

Taliban leader gloated, painting the leave of the American “occupiers” together a glorious occasion for not just the group however its compatriots.

“Our country gained its complete independence,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who just weeks ago emerged from the shadows and into the media spotlight, created on Twitter. “Praise and gratitude come God.”

The last hours that the U.S. Existence were marked by tense, harrowing scenes as the effort shifted far from practically two frantic mainly of evacuating U.S. Citizens and Afghan allies come readying the departure of American troops and officials. Threats from Islamic State ongoing until the end, the Pentagon said.

Even with the U.S. Leave deadline plainly telegraphed in advance, the velocity that the August offensive by the Taliban captured the American security establishment unawares. End a expectancy of weeks, provincial resources fell choose dominoes, through the Afghan military — U.S.-trained and also -equipped in ~ a cost of $83 billion but hollowed the end by official corruption, short morale and also maltreatment of recruits — placing up very small fight.

Whatever really hopes the U.S. Had for even temporary stability vanished together the Taliban reached the gateways of the resources Aug. 15. Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed president, Ashraf Ghani, fled with a coterie the aides, and by nightfall, fighters to be prowling the halls the the presidential palace.


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The decades-long existence of the united States and also its NATO partners was punctuated by positive moments, through Afghanistan do strides in locations such as girls’ education, maternal health and also life expectancy. But progress was fitful and also uneven, through Kabul thriving and also acquiring a cosmopolitan veneer if the hinterlands remained mired in poverty — and the Taliban plotted its return.

Perhaps the many criticized aspect of the hasty American exit was the abandonment of 10s of thousands of Afghans that either aided the war initiative by working straight with western militaries or are in danger since of their work as activists.

“We go not acquire everybody the end that we want to get out,” McKenzie acknowledged.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated up to 200 U.S. Citizens were no evacuated, either due to the fact that they decided to remain or can not with the airport. Despite the withdrawal, Blinken said, “America’s work-related in Afghanistan continues” — from a U.S. Diplomatic mission in the interim relocated to Doha, Qatar — including providing humanitarian aid to Afghans and assistance come Americans and others in departing the country.

At the airport, close to what had been the American-controlled sector, a lone mine-resistant armored protection automobile sat awkwardly amongst the weeds. Taliban members took joyrides in armored SUVs left behind, honking as they barreled under the tarmac.

Much the the seeming bounty of war materiel at the airport to be unusable, according to U.S. Military officials. McKenzie said equipment left behind — dozens the mine-resistant vehicles, Humvees and also aircraft — to be “demilitarized,” meaning key materials were damaged or destroyed.


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After these chaotic weeks, the airport may regain some normal function. Though details continue to be scarce, Blinken said that Qatar, Turkey and others are exploring ways to keep airport operations, make it feasible for civilization to leaving Afghanistan. Initially, only restricted charter flights can be possible, provided the lack of air-traffic controllers, maintenance crews and other essentials.

As so frequently happens when history takes a suddenly swerve, the sweeping tumult that the American pullout unexpectedly gave way to the mundane.

At the airfield’s civilian entrance, a few families lingered, sitting near one another in the divider bisecting the key thoroughfare. Sellers slept by your roadside stalls.

Stragglers, greatly Afghan men, hefted an assortment the bags and backpacks, trudging ago toward home.

Bulos reported from Kabul and King indigenous Washington. Staff authors Tracy Wilkinson and Eli Stokols added to this report native Washington, and Marcus Yam indigenous Kabul.

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