The United States has ended a 20-year occupation of Afghanistan and departed from the country, leaving it in the hands of the Taliban. Major General Chris Donahue, the Commanding Officer of the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, was officially the last American soldier to leave the crisis-hit country on a C-17 aircraft out of Kabul. The Taliban had started celebrating last night as the last of the American troops pulled out of the national capital. Afghanistan now is under the complete control of the Taliban, barring the resistance stronghold of Panjshir Valley. General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, announced the complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. Gen McKenzie said that the withdrawal signified not just the end of the military evacuation but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11th, 2001. Gen. McKenzie: I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. — Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021 But many wonder, did the US achieve what it set out to do in Afghanistan? The Taliban were in power when they arrived, and the Taliban are in power when they leave. He said that while the military evacuation was complete, the diplomatic mission was still on to ensure that at-risk Afghans and additional American citizens who wanted to leave are allowed to do so. Giving details of what he termed as the largest non-combatant evacuation in the US military history, the US Central Command chief said that the US and coalition aircraft had together evacuated over 1.23 lakh civilians. The White House gave more details of its evacuation operation, stating that on average, the country's military evacuated over 7,500 civilians per day over the 18-day mission. On one of those days, it evacuated over 19,000 civilians on a single day.  Denying that there was a deadline for the Americans to leave Afghanistan, the White House said that the Secretary of State would coordinate with international partners to ensure safe passage for any Americans, Afghans or foreigners who wanted to leave Afghanistan. 'New era of engagement with Afghanistan' US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, said that a new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan had begun with the country's troops departing from Kabul. .@SecBlinken: More than 123,000 people have been safely flown out of Afghanistan. That includes about 6,000 American citizens. This has been a massive military, diplomatic, and humanitarian undertaking – one of the most difficult in our nation’s history. — Department of State (@StateDept) August 31, 2021 The new engagement with Afghanistan will see the United States lead with our diplomacy, Blinken said, adding that the White House will hold the Taliban to their commitment to freedom of movement for at-risk Afghans and foreigners. He reiterated that the US work in Afghanistan will continue. Blinken further said that the Joe Biden administration had a plan for what comes next and that it was putting it into action.

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