Taliban welcomes completion of US withdrawal from Afghanistan

IANS-

Shortly after the US Central Command announced that the drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan has been completed, a Taliban spokesman on Tuesday welcomed the development.

The last US soldiers were evacuated from the Kabul airport at midnight on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.

“In this way, our country became completely free and independent,” he said.

The final evacuation flight was conducted on the last hours of Monday night August 30, airlifting the last American military and non-military personnel back home one day before the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden, reports Xinhua news agency.

Shortly after Mujahid’s comments on social media, Taliban members took to celebratory gun firing in Kabul, which lasted for about an hour, causing panic among residents of the capital city.

Following the firing, Mujahid said in a separate tweet that “the gunshots heard in Kabul are as a result of celebratory firing, the Kabul residents should not worry, we are trying to control it”.

The formal stance of the Taliban about the US withdrawal is yet to be made amid the absence of any statement.

The US Central Command announced on Monday that the withdrawal of the troops from Afghanistan has completed, ending 20 years of US-led invasion into the country.

“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals and vulnerable Afghans,” Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, announced during a news conference in Washington, which was held by the Department of Defence.

“The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30, this afternoon, at 3.29 p.m., and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the space above Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.

While paying tribute to the 2,461 fallen US service members, including the 13 soldiers who lost their lives during the August 26 Kabul bombings, and over 20,000 personnel injured during the longest war Washington has engaged in throughout history, McKenzie told reporters that no American citizens embarked on the final five evacuation flights leaving Kabul.

The General said the number of US citizens currently still stranded in Afghanistan is “in the very low hundreds”, stressing that the Department of State is now in charge of assisting those evacuees.