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Last U.S. military flight leaves Kabul; Biden to address nation Tuesday

The Pentagon on Aug. 30 said that the United States had pulled out the last of its troops, signifying the completion of a 20-year war. (Video: The Washington Post)

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The Pentagon said Monday that the United States had pulled out the last of its troops from Afghanistan and that the evacuation operation at Kabul’s international airport had ended.

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The departure caps a chaotic withdrawal that was rushed by the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country and scarred by a suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 other people. More than 120,000 people had been evacuated since Aug. 14, amounting to one of the largest airlifts in history, but the deteriorating security and chaos at the airport resulted in some Americans and thousands of Afghan allies being left behind.

In a news conference, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie announced “the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans.”

President Biden said later that there was unanimity among military leaders to end the airlift mission as planned.

He praised U.S. forces for evacuating more than 120,000 Americans and allies. The president said in a statement that he will address the nation Tuesday on his decision not to extend operations beyond then, but that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all commanders on the ground agreed that ending the military mission was “the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid celebrated the news Monday evening.

“The last American occupier withdrew from (Kabul Airport) at 12 o’clock, and our country gained its full independence,” he tweeted. “Praise and gratitude be to God.”

The Taliban has agreed to allow foreign nationals and Afghans with relevant travel documents to leave the country safely after the international rescue mission ends Tuesday, the United States and dozens of other countries said Sunday.

The day America lost its longest war: Behind the scenes of the lightning-fast takeover that surprised even the Taliban

Here’s what to know

  • No American civilians were on the last five flights, McKenzie said.
  • A U.S. drone strike targeting Islamic State militants killed 10 civilians over the weekend, family members said Monday.
  • The United Nations pleaded with the international community Monday to remain focused on the plight of Afghan civilians, warning that “a far greater humanitarian crisis is just beginning” as evacuations from Afghanistan end.
  • Five rockets were fired at the Kabul airport early Monday, one of which was intercepted by a missile defense system, according to the Pentagon.