Efforts continue to evacuate estimated 100 Americans still there
After nearly 20 years and America’s longest war, the U.S. is out of Afghanistan.
The last plane with U.S. troops left Monday, ending America’s long presence but leaving behind an estimated 100 Americans and a lot of uncertainty.
The airplane left a few minutes before midnight Afghan time, which meant the U.S. met President Joe Biden’s withdrawal deadline. Critics had unsuccessfully urged him to extend it.
President Biden said military commanders unanimously favored withdrawing the final troops by the deadline. He said “it was time to end a 20-year war.”
Although there are no more U.S. troops in the country, American officials are continuing efforts to evacuate the remaining Americans, according to national media reports. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the number was fewer than 200 but “likely closer to 100.”
The departure of American troops came after a faster-than-expected takeover of Kabul by the Taliban on Aug. 15 and the killing Thursday of 13 U.S. troops and more than 170 Afghans by an ISIS-K suicide bombing. The U.S. retaliated with two drone strikes.
On Monday, President Biden called on the Taliban to respect human rights and permit Afghans to travel safely.
Mr. Blinken said the U.S. could continue to engage with the Taliban to protect American interests.
Monday’s developments ended a long chapter in American history.
That chapter began with terrorist organization al-Qaida’s attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001 and President George W. Bush’s decision to send troops on Oct. 7 into Afghanistan, which al-Qaida had used to stage its attack on the U.S.
The Taliban were overwhelmed, Kabul fell quickly, and the U.S. helped the Afghan government stay in power. The lives of women and girls improved greatly. But the Taliban continued to fight, and the war persisted.
In 2011, U.S. forces went to Pakistan and found and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was behind the 9-11 attacks.
In February 2020, President Donald Trump and the Taliban agreed to the U.S. withdrawing from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, in exchange for the Taliban’s promise not to attack American troops. President Biden extended the deadline to Aug. 31.
A CBS News /YouGov poll showed 63% of surveyed Americans wanted the U.S. to leave Afghanistan, but 74% of the respondents said the withdrawal was handled somewhat badly or very badly.