Twenty years after America began its war to free Afghanistan from the Taliban, Taliban fighters went joyriding on the Kabul airport tarmac and fired off their guns to celebrate the end of America’s retreat from Kabul.
Roughly two weeks after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, the United States evacuated its final military personnel, turning the airport over to the Taliban, which first sent special forces troops to inspect the airport before beginning its hours of triumph on Tuesday.
“The world should have learned its lesson and this is the enjoyable moment of victory,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, according to Fox News.
Americans “could not achieve their goal through military operations,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.
The Taliban now have full control of Kabul’s international airport after the last U.S. plane took off. The scene there marks the end of America’s longest war, a quiet airfield where only vehicles raced back and forth along the sole runway of the airport. https://t.co/EAkeoi66lj
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 31, 2021
— Nabih (@nabihbulos) August 30, 2021
The backdrop to the celebration was a reminder of the vast military might the United States sent into Afghanistan — helicopters, gunships and planes left behind during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden.
Do you think the war would have ended like this if Donald Trump were president?
“It is a historical day and a historical moment,” Mujahid said during a news conference at the airport after the departure, according to Reuters. “We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power.”
Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said during a Pentagon briefing that “there’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure.”
“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,” he said.
An image from the Pentagon taken with night-vision optics showed the last U.S. soldier to step aboard the final evacuation flight out of Kabul – Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division https://t.co/ZtuKLxMNsy pic.twitter.com/yIfwHyo2U4
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) August 31, 2021
Mujahid said he told Taliban commandoes to be “very cautious” in dealing with civilians.
“Our nation has suffered war and invasion, and the people do not have more tolerance,” he said.
“Peoples’ expectations have grown dramatically after the past 20 years of freedom and liberation, and the pain is yet to come,” he said. “Will the Taliban engage the world with a more inclusive approach? Or will they return to the ways of the past?”
The tragedy of the fall of #Kabul continues to unfold. Tragic stories of summary executions, target killing and displacement of helpless Afghan artists, writers and journalists are pouring in on daily basis. https://t.co/AljRi47O7k
— Khadim Hussain (@Khadimhussain4) August 31, 2021
Amid reports of revenge taking place in Afghanistan, with the Taliban torturing and killing people who assisted the United States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration is taking a bygones-will-be-bygones approach and focusing on the future.
He said the U.S. would work with the Taliban as long as there were no reprisals against former enemies.
Another landmark picture taking the world in a new era of terror.
Taliban hang a person, presumed to be an American interpreter, from a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter.
The left over US helicopters will now be used in #Afganistan like this. pic.twitter.com/8q6C5bo4IB
— Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) August 31, 2021
“The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support,” Blinken said. “Our position is any legitimacy and support will have to be earned.”
Mujahid claimed that good relations are the Taliban’s goal.
“The Islamic Emirate wants to have good diplomatic relations with the whole world,” he said.