The Taliban are celebrating their return to power after they took charge of Kabul airport following the departure of the last US troops from Afghanistan.
The Afghan group said on Tuesday Afghanistan is now a “free and sovereign” nation as it hailed the exit of US troops, describing their departure as a “historic moment”. “Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters from the runway of the Hamid Karzai International airport.
The United States’s longest military conflict drew to a close on Monday night when its forces left Kabul airport, where it had overseen a frenzied airlift that saw more than 123,000 people evacuated since the Taliban took over on August 15.
Taliban fighters swept into the airport and fired weapons into the sky across the city in jubilation – an astonishing return after US forces invaded in 2001 and toppled them for their links to al-Qaeda, which was blamed for the 9/11 attacks.
The Special Forces unit posed for pictures, brandishing US M-16 rifles and flying the Taliban’s white flag. The atmosphere was one of triumph and victory, but all around was evidence of the chaotic withdrawal of US troops after a 20-year occupation, and the hurried evacuation of more than 120,000 people fearful of the Taliban’s return to power.
“It is a historical day and a historical moment,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference at the airport after the departure. “We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power.”