KABUL: The US navy introduced it has accomplished its withdrawal from Afghanistan after a brutal 20-year conflict — one which began and ended with the hardline Islamist Taliban in energy, regardless of billions of {dollars} spent making an attempt to rebuild the conflict-wracked nation.

Celebratory gunfire rang out in Kabul within the early hours of Tuesday to mark the second, which got here after the fraught last days of a frantic mission to evacuate tens of 1000’s of Individuals and Afghans who had helped the US-led conflict effort — and which left scores of Afghans and 13 US servicemembers useless in a suicide bombing final week.

That assault — claimed by the Islamic State’s Afghan offshoot — gave edgy urgency to the ultimate days of the US-led effort to permit these in search of to flee Taliban rule in another country.

The withdrawal got here earlier than the tip of August 31, the precise deadline set by President Joe Biden to name time on America’s longest conflict.

“I am right here to announce the completion of our withdrawal to Afghanistan and the tip of the navy mission to evacuate Americans,” US Basic Kenneth McKenzie informed reporters Monday.

The ultimate flight left at 1929 GMT Monday – simply earlier than the beginning of Tuesday in Kabul, he mentioned.

The return to energy a fortnight in the past of the Taliban motion, which was toppled in 2001 when america invaded in retaliation for the September 11 assaults, triggered a large exodus of people that worry a brand new model of hardline Islamist rule.

The evacuation flights have taken greater than 123,000 folks out of Kabul airport, based on McKenzie.

The regional Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-Ok) group, rivals of the Taliban, posed the most important menace to the withdrawal, after finishing up a suicide bombing outdoors the airport final week that claimed greater than 100 lives, together with these of 13 US troops.

On Monday, they claimed to have fired six rockets on the airport. A Taliban official mentioned the assault was intercepted by the airport’s missile defence techniques.

Earlier than the US withdrawal was confirmed, the UN Safety Council adopted a decision requiring the Taliban to honor their dedication to let folks freely depart Afghanistan within the days forward, and to grant entry to the UN and different support businesses, however didn’t create a “protected zone” in Kabul.

– ‘We won’t sleep’ –

On Monday, the White Home confirmed the evacuation effort had been focused by a rocket assault directed on the airport, however mentioned airlift operations there have been “uninterrupted”.

An AFP photographer noticed a destroyed automobile with a launcher system nonetheless seen within the again seat.

Whereas there have been no studies of fatalities or airport injury from the obvious IS-Ok rocket salvo, they prompted higher anxiousness for locals already traumatised by years of conflict.

“For the reason that Individuals have taken management of the airport, we will not sleep correctly,” Abdullah, who lives close to the airport and gave just one identify, informed AFP.

“It’s both gunfire, rockets, sirens or sounds of giant planes that disturb us. And now that they’re being instantly focused, it could possibly put our lives at risk.”

An AFP journalist in Kabul mentioned there was a relentless sound of planes overhead all day Monday, with plane taking off and touchdown, in addition to jets providing surveillance and safety.

– ‘Potential lack of harmless life’ –

The USA mentioned Sunday it had carried out a drone strike towards a car threatening the Kabul airport that had been linked to the regional Islamic State chapter — its second focusing on IS-Ok in latest days.

However on Monday, it seemed like that they had probably made a horrible mistake.

Members of 1 household informed AFP they believed a deadly error had been made, and that 10 civilians had been killed.

“My brother and his 4 kids had been killed. I misplaced my small daughter.. nephews and nieces,” Aimal Ahmadi informed AFP.

“We’re conscious of studies of civilian casualties following our strike on a car in Kabul right this moment,” Captain Invoice City, a US Central Command spokesman, mentioned in an announcement.

“We’d be deeply saddened by any potential lack of harmless life.”

Lately, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been chargeable for a few of the deadliest assaults in these international locations.

They’ve massacred civilians at mosques, public squares, colleges, and even hospitals.

Whereas each the Islamic State and the Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamists, they’re at occasions additionally bitter foes — with every claiming to be the true flag-bearers of jihad.

Final week’s suicide bombing on the airport was one of many deadliest bombings for civilians in Kabul in recent times, and led to the worst single-day dying toll for the US navy in Afghanistan since 2011.

The IS menace has compelled the US navy and the Taliban to cooperate in making certain safety on the airport in a means unthinkable simply weeks in the past.

– Taliban chief –

The Taliban have promised a softer model of rule in contrast with their first stint in energy, which the US navy ended as a result of the group gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda.

However many Afghans worry a repeat of the Taliban’s brutal interpretation of Islamic regulation, in addition to violent retribution for working with international militaries, Western missions or the earlier US-backed authorities.

On Sunday, the Taliban revealed their supreme chief Hibatullah Akhundzada was in southern Afghanistan and planning to make a public look.

“He’s current in Kandahar,” mentioned Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, referring to the motion’s religious birthplace.

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