Taliban hails departure of US troops as a ‘historic moment’, declaring that the country has now gained ‘full independence’.
The Taliban hailed on Tuesday the departure of US troops after almost 20 years of occupation, describing their departure as a “historic moment” while declaring that the country is now a “free and sovereign nation”.
Speaking to reporters from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the victory of his group “belongs to us all”.
“We do not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation,” he said, adding the the Americans “could not achieve their goal through military operations”.
He also vowed that Afghanistan will have “working diplomatic relations” with the West, vowing that Afghans “will protect our freedom, independence and Islamic values.”
Earlier, Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command, announced that the last American troops sent to evacuate US citizens and Afghans at risk of the Taliban have flown out of Kabul just before midnight local time.
“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we stayed another 10 days, we would not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. And there still would have been people disappointed. It’s a tough situation.”
President Joe Biden set a deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal earlier this year.
Here are the latest updates:
Taliban spokesman to hold press conference at Kabul airport
The spokesman of the Taliban government, Zabihullah Mujahid, and his troops are reportedly entering Kabul Airport, where he is expected to hold a press conference.
Images posted on social media posts showed Zabihullah and his group entering the airport on Tuesday morning, where they are expected to make some important announcements.
— Muhammad Jalal (@MJalal700) August 31, 2021
Beijing watching Afghanistan ‘very closely’ after US withdrawal
With its growing investment in Afghanistan, its “extensive investments” in Pakistan, as well as its geopolitical interests at stake, China is “watching very closely” developments in the region following the withdrawal of US troops from Kabul.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said that while China “is maintaining an approach of non-interference”, it is still monitoring the situation very closely.
Yu said Beijing wants to give the Taliban “a space to prove itself”, while also urging Washington DC to play a role in “cleaning up the mess” following the withdrawal.
‘Calm’ in Kabul after US troops withdraw
Kabul residents woke up early on Tuesday under full control of the Taliban after the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said the “atmosphere is calm” in the Afghan capital after a late night of victory celebration.
“For the Taliban, this is a historic victory for them. The Taliban have always spoken about their fight in Afghanistan against foreign powers as one of a rite to national sovereignty,” he said.
Our correspondent said there’s “a lot of unanswered questions” now as the new rulers of Afghanistan start to rebuild the country.