The withdrawal comes nearly 20 years after the U.S. invaded the country following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that he was announcing the “completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” after he said the U.S. had evacuated 79,000 people from Kabul—6,000 being American citizens—since Aug. 14, Al Jazeera reports. The Taliban took control of the country and capital on Aug. 15.
“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 September 11, 2001,” McKenzie said. “…Every single American service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with absolute certainty.”
More than 122,000 total people have been flown out of Kabul, Reuters reports, as the U.S. and NATO allies worked on evacuations. The Biden administration has committed to helping people leave Afghanistan even after the current completion of military withdrawal.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”