Every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command said, adding that there were no evacuees left at the airport.
After two whole decades, there are no more U.S. service members left in Afghanistan, as the last C-17 military plane has flown out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30, 2021. This exit officially marks the end of a 20-year "mission", aka the United States' longest war. Troops were sent to the country shortly after the 9/11 attack.
More than 2,400 U.S. troops lost their lives in Afghanistan, including the 13 who were killed in a suicide attack near the Kabul airport last week, per NPR. According to CNN, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command made the announcement at the Pentagon.
History made.— Dr Sakhawat Ali (@DrSakhawatAli6) July 3, 2021
The last USAF C-17 flight has left Bagram airbase, US Gen Scott Miller has flown out of Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/hHwJCJeJpX
"I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans," McKenzie told reporters. "The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30th, this afternoon, at 3:29 p.m. East Coast time, and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan."
Meanwhile, HuffPost reports that McKenzie said with 100% certainty that every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan, adding that there were no evacuees left at the airport.
However, there seem to still be a few people left behind. "There's a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure," McKenzie said. "We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out." There were no non-military Americans on the last military flights according to the Pentagon, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there are “likely closer to 100” Americans left in Afghanistan who want to leave. McKenzie then added that there were some Americans who wished to stay back in Afghanistan.
“I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left” in Afghanistan to be able to leave, he said. “I believe that we’re going to be able to get those people out. I think we’re also going to negotiate very hard, very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out. The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before.” Since there are no more US diplomats in the country, a senior State Department official said that they expected the US Embassy in Kabul to suspend embassy operations but added "that doesn't mean that we are suspending any commitments to American citizens in Afghanistan, to at-risk Afghans, to the Afghan people."
Later in the day, President Joe Biden released a statement, thanking the final U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan for executing the "dangerous retrograde from Afghanistan as scheduled," with no further loss of American lives. "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," the President said in the statement, adding that he will make an address about Afghanistan to the nation on August 31, 2021.
The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan: Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the @82ndABNDiv, @18airbornecorps boards an @usairforce C-17 on August 30th, 2021, ending the U.S. mission in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/j5fPx4iv6a— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021
"Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended," Biden said.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Andreas Rentz