The Pentagon announced on Monday that the U.S. war in Afghanistan officially ended at 3:29 ET on August 30, 2021, as the final flight of U.S. troops took off from Kabul’s airport, ending two decades of U.S. military presence in the country.
The U.S. war in Afghanistan ended at 3:29 ET on August 30, 2021, the Pentagon announces.
— Ginger Gibson (@GingerGibson) August 30, 2021
The United States went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 after al Qaeda terrorists flew commercial planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Another flight crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers and crew made an attempt to retake the plane from al Qaeda hijackers. In total, 19 terrorists killed 2,977 people, most of them Americans.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, deposing its Taliban-controlled government, scattering al Qaeda, and forcing its leaders into hiding. In 2011, the United States killed Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s leader and the mastermind behind the 9-11 attacks. Over the course of the war, the U.S. lost 2,461 service members, including 13 who died in a terror attack last week.
In the years after bin Laden’s death, the U.S. supported a fledgling Afghan government and aided its military against attacks from Taliban rebels and terrorists. President Joe Biden announced an end to the war earlier this year in April, stating his intent to pull all U.S. troops out of the country by September 11. He revised the deadline to August 31 last month.
The final weeks of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan grew increasingly chaotic until the final evacuation flight left Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday. The U.S. evacuated over 100,000 people in the final weeks of the war. At the war’s end, the Taliban are solidifying their new rule over Afghanistan and Al Qaeda is rebuilding, worrying American officials that the terror group may eventually grow strong enough to carry out more attacks against the United States.
Hundreds of American citizens and potentially hundreds of thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. military and their families are believed to remain in Afghanistan after the United States failed to evacuate them before Biden’s self-imposed deadline. In the final days leading up to the complete withdrawal, Biden continued to claim that the United States “stands by its commitment” to its Afghan allies and promised to evacuate all Americans.
“We’re going to do everything — everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for our Afghan allies, partners, and Afghans who might be targeted if — because of their association with the United States,” Biden said on August 20. “But let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.”
Last week, the Kabul airport was targeted by a reported ISIS-K suicide bomber who detonated outside of one of the airport’s main gates. The blast killed hundreds of Afghan civilians as well as 13 U.S. service members. In response, the U.S. has conducted two strikes against purported ISIS-K targets. One of the strikes killed 10 Afghan civilians, including children, all from one family, according to a relative. As The Washington Post reported:
The dead were all from a single extended family who were exiting a car in their modest driveway when the strike hit a nearby vehicle, said Abdul Matin Azizi, a neighbor who saw the attack. Azizi, 20, said the explosion occurred as the family returned home Sunday afternoon around 4:30 p.m.
Azizi said he ran next door to help and found a gruesome scene, the air thick with smoke. “The bodies were covered in blood and shrapnel, and some of the dead children were still inside the car,” he said.
U.S. Central Command said the strike Sunday destroyed an Islamic State car bomb that posed an “imminent” threat to Kabul’s airport. It acknowledged reports of civilian casualties but did not release specifics. The attack is the second U.S. drone strike on Afghanistan in response to a suicide bombing and gunfire attack outside Kabul’s airport on Thursday.