After the last US soldiers flew out of Afghanistan after 20 years of war, the Taliban celebrated with gunfire that resonated throughout Kabul.
The Taliban released shaky video footage of fighters storming the airport after the final US forces lifted off a minute before midnight, signaling the end of a quick and humiliating retreat for Washington and its NATO allies.
According to the Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated early Tuesday that “American soldiers fled the Kabul airport, and our people gained full independence.”
Major General Chris Donahue, the Commanding Officer of the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, was officially the final American soldier to leave the crisis-hit country on a C-17 airplane out of Kabul, bringing an end to the United States’ 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.
Now – Celebrating gunfire in Kabul pic.twitter.com/6LplqtHSIW
— Muslim Shirzad (@MuslimShirzad) August 30, 2021
The cargo planes’ departure marked the end of a huge airlift in which tens of thousands of people fled Afghanistan, frightened of the restoration of Taliban rule after the insurgents took over most of the country and pushed into the capital earlier this month.
“The final five planes have left; it’s over!” exclaimed Hemad Sherzad, a Taliban fighter stationed at Kabul’s international airport. “I can’t convey how happy I am… Our 20 years of sacrifice paid off.”
General Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, proclaimed the end of America’s longest war and evacuation effort in Washington, stating the last flights took out from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. EDT – one minute before midnight Monday in Kabul, according to Reuters.
America’s longest war cost almost 2,500 US troops and an estimated 240,000 Afghans their lives, and it cost nearly $2 trillion.