US completes withdrawal from Afghanistan

The last US military flight has left Kabul airport, marking the end of a controversial 20-year presence in Afghanistan and America’s longest war, the BBC reports.

Officials said the last C17 aircraft took off with the US ambassador onboard after midnight local time on Tuesday.

They added that the diplomatic mission to assist those unable to leave before the deadline would continue.

Celebratory gunfire by the Taliban was heard after the last plane departed.

The aircraft’s departure was the final chapter in a contentious military effort, which eventually saw the US handing Afghanistan back to the very Islamist militants it sought to root out when American troops entered the country in 2001.

It also was the end of a massive evacuation effort that began on 14 August soon after the Taliban took over the country.

America’s top military commander in the region, Gen Kenneth McKenzie, said that in total, US and coalition aircraft evacuated more than 123,000 civilians – an average of more than 7,500 civilians per day during that time.

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