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US completes evacuation: Last American soldier, Maj Gen Chris Donahue, flies out of Kabul

OPINION: They're done on the dot! Against all odds, the American troops have left the Afghan soil as planned. The last was Maj Gen Chris Donahue who boarded the Air Force C-17 Globemaster at 5:27 am on Tuesday Afghan time. Thus the US intervention in Afghanistan following the 9/11 that struck fear into the psyche of the genetically fearless Americans that will now stay for generations thanks to Al-Qaeda and their unknown masters, an occupation under a line of succeeding feckless Presidents spanning 20 years, an extended mission that had no rhyme or reason in a far away land constituted of disparate groups of warlords and tribal drug traders, has passed into history as an act of American absurdity costing over two trillion dollars and 2,400 soldiers.

KABUL, Aug 31: The last C-17 military aircraft departed Hamid Karzai International Airport early morning Tuesday, the last day as per an extended plan of US evacuation from Afghanistan ending 20 years of occupation following the Al-Qaeda attack on American installations on 9/11 2001 causing thousands of casualties, the Pentagon said. The longest American military engagement thus came to an inevitable conclusion.

Maj Gen Chris Donahue who boarded the American Air Force C-17 Globemaster at 5:27 am on Tuesday was the last to leave Kabul airport.

Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said there were no American civilians on the last five flights out of Kabul. The Taliban did not have direct knowledge of the US military’s time of departure “but they (Taliban) were actually very helpful and useful to us as we closed down operations,” McKenzie said. He indicated that there may be Americans left out who could not make it to the airport.

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, there may be around 200 Americans left in Afghanistan. He said the military engagement in Afghanistan has ended but a new diplomatic mission has begun.

“We will remain vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves and will maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats if necessary — as we demonstrated in the past few days by striking ISIS facilitators and even threats in Afghanistan, and as we do in places around the world where we do not have military forces on the ground,” Blinken said.

President Joe Biden in a statement said he would address the nation Tuesday afternoon (US time). He thanked the American military and said, “The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies and Afghan allies of the United States.

“They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” the statement added.

In the last few days before the agreed deadline for withdrawal of the troops, there were attacks targeting the US soldiers at the Kabul airport and counter-attacks by the US military which led to casualties including civilians. While the IS-K bomb attack killed over 100 Afghans crowding at the airport to flee the repression of the Talibans and 13 American servicemen on August 26, the US strike-back killed three IS-K plotters near Jalalabad on Friday night and about 10 others in the heart of Kabul in a second drone strike guided from a West Asian base on Sunday. Five rockets fired by the IS-K on Monday morning were intercepted by the anti-missile defence system at the airport.

About 122,800 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 6,000 US citizens and their families, according to the White House. They included 3,000 US troops.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden had said earlier.

Even as the evacuation was on as per the February, 2020 agreement made by President Donald Trump, Taliban and the Afghan Government, and the deadline for total pullout later rescheduled as August 31, Taliban fighters on August 31 swiftly and unexpectedly took control of Kabul as the army was giving up everywhere and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

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