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U.S. ends 20-year war in Afghanistan with final evacuation

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(Last Updated On: August 31, 2021)

The United States on Monday completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan after a huge but chaotic airlift that cost the lives of 13 U.S. troops and left behind thousands of Afghans and hundreds of Americans still seeking an escape from Taliban rule, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters in a first in the nearly 20 years since al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks plunged the United States into war, not a “single service member” from the U.S. military was in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said in an afternoon news conference.

“Heartbreak” was the word that U.S. Marine General Frank McKenzie used as he described emotions surrounding the U.S. departure from its longest war after dangerous and tireless efforts by U.S. troops to evacuate American citizens and vulnerable Afghans.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” McKenzie, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon news briefing.

The top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was aboard the last C-17 military transport flight out of Kabul’s airport at 11:59 p.m. Kabul time, along with the commanding general of the U.S. military’s 82nd Airborne Division, Reuters reported.

More than 122,000 people have been flown out of Kabul since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban – which harbored the al Qaeda militant group behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington – regained control of the country.

“But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,” McKenzie said.

As the U.S. troops departed, they destroyed more than 70 aircraft, dozens of armored vehicles and disabled air defenses that had thwarted an attempted ISIS-K, locally known as Daesh rocket attack on the eve of the U.S. departure, Reuters reported.

Having failed to anticipate the Taliban would prevail so quickly, Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit, leaving behind thousands of Afghans who helped them and may have qualified for evacuation and others who feel at risk.

The emergency air evacuation came to an end a minute before a Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who inherited a troop withdrawal deal made with the Taliban by his predecessor, Donald Trump, and decided to complete the pullout without preconditions.

Biden’s decision has led to the biggest crisis of his young presidency and raised far-reaching questions about the capability of Western democracies to build lasting institutions in their image overseas, and their willingness in the future to do so, Reuters reported.

The swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has drawn comparisons to the capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese forces in 1975 and shaken generations of U.S. veterans who served there and watched the wars’ final days with sadness.

Biden, in a statement, commended U.S. troops for carrying out the largest airlift in U.S. history “with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve.” “Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” he said.

According to the Reuters nearly 2,500 Americans have been killed in the conflict, including 13 troops in a suicide bombing by ISIS-K, locally known as Daesh, last week outside the airport. Many of them were just babies when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place.

McKenzie said the Taliban helped secure the airfield as the United States carried out the evacuation. But he cited a rare convergence of interests: The Taliban wanted the United States out of Afghanistan, and the United States wanted to leave, Reuters said.

But he warned that the Taliban would have difficulty grappling with ISIS-K, a fierce enemy of both the West and the Taliban. He declined to speculate about future cooperation with the Taliban following the U.S. departure, even as Biden has promised to hunt down Islamic State militants responsible for last week’s bombing.

“They (the Taliban) let a lot of those people … out of prisons and now they’re going to be able to reap what they sow,” McKenzie said.

The withdrawal opens a new chapter in the U.S. effort to keep pressure on groups it sees as mortal enemies, including ISIS-K,and al Qaeda.

Following the suicide attack last week, the U.S. military flew in drones for strikes in Afghanistan on Friday and Sunday to attack ISIS-K. Experts warn that U.S. intelligence is far harder to collect from overseas and strikes are more risky, Reuters reported.

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Russia recognizes IEA’s ‘efforts’ to stabilize Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has acknowledged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) efforts to stabilize Afghanistan after the delegation arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for talks.

Lavrov added that the Kremlin is “satisfied with the level of interaction with the new Afghan authorities”, while pointing the finger at Daesh (ISIS-K) and al-Qaeda for trying to take advantage of instability in Afghanistan, RT reported.

Russians meanwhile said earlier that they’re not going to recognize the IEA government until they are able to prove their commitments to the world, Anil Trigunayat, a former Russian diplomat, told Times Now on Wednesday.

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Khalilzad: Afghanistan is facing ‘great challenges ahead’

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Zalmay Khalilzad said a day after his resignation as the US State Department’s special envoy for the Afghan reconciliation process that the country was facing major challenges

“US forces are out and the war for the United States is over, but this is not the final chapter,” he said in a series of tweets.

Khalilzad also said he remained committed to peace in Afghanistan and the region.

“I am committed to the possibility of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the wider region. This is what Afghans have yearned for more than 40 years. The United States stands with them,” Khalilzad added.

The Afghan-American diplomat said in the tweets that the United States, the international community and Afghan leaders would stay in touch and he welcomed Thomas West’s appointment as his successor.

He also thanked the US State Department, Defense and intelligence officials “who joined me on this mission “.

Khalilzad’s resignation came two months after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took control of Kabul.

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IEA delegation arrives in Moscow for major talks on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

An Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi has arrived in Moscow for a key meeting in Afghanistan’s future.

The Russian embassy in Kabul said a major international meeting will be held Wednesday to focus on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Members of the Moscow format, including Afghanistan, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Central Asian countries and others, have been invited to attend the meeting,” the embassy said in a statement.

The statement added that the meeting, in which the conditions, including domestic politics, necessary to ensure the reconstruction of the country after the disputes in a broad sense will be discussed.

Eleven nations in total are expected to participate.

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