‘It was time to end this war’: Biden says Afghan evacuation was ‘extraordinary success’

Joe Biden has hailed the “extraordinary success” of the US evacuation in Afghanistan, saying it was “time to end this war”.

The US president has been heavily criticised for his handling of the airlift, which saw more than 120,000 people successfully flown out of Kabul airport, but left between 100 and 200 Americans behind.

Questions have been raised about why the president did not authorise another day of flights after the last air force plane departed Kabul at one minute before midnight on Monday.

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Taliban celebrates as last US troops leave Kabul

Mr Biden had set Tuesday as the deadline for ending the evacuation and getting the remaining US troops out of Afghanistanafter the Taliban took power.

Speaking at a White House news conference, Mr Biden said his 31 August deadline was not “arbitrary” and was “designed to save lives”.

He added that for Americans left behind “there is no deadline” and he “remains committed to getting them out if they want to get out”.

“The bottom line is that 90% of those who wanted to leave were able to leave,” he said.

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He said America had “succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan more than a decade ago and we stayed for another decade”.

The president said the US was facing new threats in a “new world”.

America's longest war is over - they chose to walk away but ended up running

America’s longest war is over – they chose to walk away but ended up running

Addressing ISIS-K (Islamic State Khorasan), the terror group which carried out a devastating suicide bombing at Kabul airport that killed up to 169 Afghans, 13 US military personnel and two British nationals, Mr Biden said: “We are not done with you yet.”

He added: “To those who wish America harm, know this. The US will never rest. We will never rest. We will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth and you will pay the ultimate price.”

Mr Biden also claimed the US has “leverage” to make sure the Taliban’s commitment to the safe passage of Americans is met, adding that the US will continue to support Afghans through diplomacy and international aid.

“I have been clear that human rights will be the centre of our foreign policy,” the president said. “The way to do this isn’t through endless military deployments.

“My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over.”

The last member of the US armed forces to leave Afghanistan. Pic: @18AirborneCorps
Image:The last member of the US armed forces to leave Afghanistan. Pic: @18AirborneCorps

In a written statement on Monday, Mr Biden said military commanders unanimously favoured ending the airlift instead of extending it.

He said he had asked his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to coordinate with international partners to hold the Taliban to their promise of safe passage for Americans and others who wish to leave the country in the coming days.

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Taliban’s mock funeral for Western nations

The Taliban celebrated their victory over the US and NATO troops on Tuesday by firing guns into the air and enforcing their Islamist rule.

Footage emerged of a fake funeral the Taliban held for US and NATO forces in Khost, following the US withdrawal from Kabul.

Images showed hundreds of people gathered around coffins draped with UK and US flags, with the Taliban’s banner strung across a building nearby.

While information about the gathering was scarce, it appeared to mock the departure of Western forces.

Taliban special force fighters arrive inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport. Pic: AP
Image:Taliban special force fighters arrive inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport. Pic: AP

It comes as details emerged of the last call between President Biden and his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani.

During the call on 23 July, neither of the leaders appeared to be prepared for the Taliban’s surge across Afghanistan and the collapse of its government 23 days later.

“We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows,” Mr Biden said.

Taliban posing at Kabul airport.
Image:Taliban pictured at Kabul airport. Pic: AP

Mr Biden also praised the Afghan armed forces, which collapsed amid pressure from the Taliban despite having been trained and funded by the US.

“You clearly have the best military,” he told Mr Ghani. “You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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