Heavily Armed Taliban Take Control of Kabul Airport After US Withdrawal

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Smoke rises after the blasts at Kabul airport on August 26. —

“After two decades, we have defeated the Americans,” said Mohammad Islam, an airport guard.

KABUL — Soon after the last US troops departed, heavily-armed Taliban members on Tuesday took control of the Kabul international airport.

The Taliban members walked through sheds on the military side. Subsequently, the movement’s leaders celebrated their victory by walking across the runway, Pajhwok News reported.

In a live-stream, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “This is the enjoyable moment of victory.”

On Monday night, the Taliban opened celebratory gunfire.

“After two decades, we have defeated the Americans,” said Mohammad Islam, an airport guard.

In an online video on Tuesday, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha Mohammad Naeem also hailed the movement’s takeover of the airport.

While congratulating fighters, Naeem said: “Thank God all the occupiers have left our country completely.” He linked the Taliban victory to 20 years of sacrifice by the “mujahedeen”.

Aerial firing using different types of weapons, including machine guns, dominated the sky in Kabul after midnight, which frightened and awoke residents of the Afghan capital.

It was later clarified that the firings, which lasted about an hour, were part of the Taliban’s celebrations for what its called the end of the occupation after the US announced that the withdrawal of troops was completed, Khaama News reported.

Taking to Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that “the gunshots heard in Kabul are as a result of celebratory firing, the Kabul residents should not worry, we are trying to control it”.

Regarding the completion of the withdrawal, Mujahid added that “in this way, our country became completely free and independent”.

Addressing a news conference in Washington, which was held by the Department of Defence, on Monday midnight, Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said: “I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals and vulnerable Afghans.

“The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30, this afternoon, at 3.29 p.m. East coast time, and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the space above Afghanistan.”

US media cited a State Department official as saying earlier on Monday that it was believed that there were fewer than 250 American citizens still in Afghanistan.

As per the White House and Pentagon, as of early Monday, a total of 116,700 people have been evacuated from Kabul after the Taliban takeover, according to Khaama News. — IANS

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