The Pentagon announced on Monday that the US has completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said the last plane took off from Kabul at 3:29 pm Eastern Standard Time, which was just one minute before midnight in Kabul.
“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,” McKenzie told reporters. “Every single US service member is now out of Afghanistan,” he added.
The completion of the withdrawal comes after a hectic airlift operation in which over 100,000 people were evacuated, including about 6,000 Americans. McKenzie said the US “did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out” and said there are still Americans in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks on the withdrawal and the number of Americans left in the country. “We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,” he said. Blinken added that most Americans left are “dual citizen Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan who resided there for many years.”
While the US evacuated a lot of people, the airlift was not without incident. A massive suicide attack claimed by the local ISIS affiliate outside the airport gates killed over 170 people last week, including 13 US troops and 28 Taliban members.
The US has since launched airstrikes against targets it claims were ISIS-K, but witnesses said a US drone strike in Kabul on Sunday killed 10 civilians, including seven children. The US launched a separate strike on Friday that it claimed killed two “ISIS-K planners,” but the Pentagon has refused to disclose their names.
The US has been launching airstrikes from outside of Afghanistan, what the Pentagon is calling “over the horizon” capability, so it’s possible the bombings could continue. Blinken said the US will “maintain robust capabilities” in the region to “neutralize threats” from groups like ISIS-K.