KABUL (Pajhwok): The US military evacuation from Afghanistan has been completed, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.
He tweeted “Today, we completed the US military evacuation of civilians and the removal of all forces from Afghanistan.”
Austin wrote: “I’m deeply saddened that in the course of this historic evacuation, we lost 13 of our own, along with so many others who were killed and wounded by cruel terrorists.”
The defense secretary added the end of this operation also signaled the end of America’s longest war.
“We lost 2,461 troops in that war, and tens of thousands of others suffered wounds, seen and unseen. The scars of combat don’t heal easily, and often never heal at all.”
He was proud of the part they had planned in the war, he said, adding: “I am proud of the men and women who led me.
“I am proud of those with whom I served and led. And I am proud of the intrepid, resilient families who made what we did possible.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also tweeted: “US military flights have ended and our troops have departed Afghanistan.
“A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy,” he added.
Blinken said 100 to 200 US citizens were still in Afghanistan and they wished to leave and that diplomatic efforts were underway.
“The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before,” America’s top diplomat continued.
Late on Monday, the Pentagon released an image of the last American soldier leaving Afghanistan, signaling the end of the nation’s longest war.
That distinction goes to Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, who was photographed boarding an Air Force C-17 in Kabul:
Meanwhile, the US Central Command, chief said over 123,000 civilians had been evacuated from Afghanistan by the US and its allies since Aug. 14.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie added: “Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.”