A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, takes off on the runway April 27, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner, courtesy of DVIDS.
On the 7,293rd day since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, US Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. announced the end of the Afghanistan war minutes after the last US aircraft — call sign “Moose88” — took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“I’m here to announce our completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans,” McKenzie said. “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.”
In awe of our Sky Dragon Soldiers.
This was an incredibly tough, pressurized mission filled with multiple complexities, with active threats the entire time. Our troops displayed grit, discipline and empathy.
Below is a picture of the last Soldier to leave Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/LnhBGHUf0M
— XVIII Airborne Corps (@18airbornecorps) August 30, 2021
The United States has evacuated more than 79,000 civilians, including 6,000 Americans, from Kabul since efforts began Aug. 14. The last plane took off from Kabul Monday, Aug. 30, at 3:29 p.m. EST. According to the Pentagon, a total of 2,327 American lives were lost on the ground in Afghanistan, including the 13 US service members who were killed by a suicide bomber Thursday.
Flight trackers followed the final flight online.
#BREAKING: The last #USAF aircraft left #Kabul International airport minutes ago. They are six C-17A transport aircraft with 07-7173, 08-8197, 07-7182, 07-7185, 07-7181 & 09-9211 serial numbers. 07-7173 with Moose88 call-sign was the last aircraft to leave #Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/yBlLD2sfqv
— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) August 30, 2021
Videos showed tracer rounds, presumably fired by Taliban fighters, lighting up the night sky in celebration.
Celebratory gunfire from #Taliban fighters shooting tracer rounds into #Kabul's night sky after #US withdrawal. pic.twitter.com/4dhrHz7CNw
— Nabih (@nabihbulos) August 30, 2021
Following the departure of the last American troops, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen celebrated the occasion.
“The last American soldier left Afghanistan,” he announced. “Our country gained full independence. Praise be to Allah. Heart-felt congratulations to all countrymen!”
Tonight 12:00 pm (Afghanistan time) the last American soldier left Afghanistan. Our country gained full independence. Praise be to Allah. Heart-felt congratulations to all countrymen!
— Suhail Shaheen. محمد سهیل شاهین (@suhailshaheen1) August 30, 2021
Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.
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