Last flight out of Kabul: US announces end of evacuation from Afghanistan

The last C-17 military plane left Afghanistan on Monday afternoon eastern time (Pictures: AP/Getty Images)

Armed Taliban fighters shot into the air and took over Kabul airport moments after the US ended its mission to flee Afghanistan.

Within minutes of the last C-17 military plane taking off, gunfire could be heard around the airport.

US officials said the final hours of the retreat were filled with tension as troops tried to get evacuees as well as themselves and their supplies out.

They also faced further threats of more terror and rocket attacks.

The US concluded its withdrawal four days after a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport claimed by ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, that killed 13 US service members. Their remains were flown to Dover, Delaware, on Sunday, with President Joe Biden present to pay his respects.

Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie said: ‘I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end to the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans.’

The final C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3.29pm ET, according to McKenzie, which is 11.29pm in Kabul.

McKenzie added: ‘And the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan.

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‘While the military evacuation is complete, the diplomatic mission to ensure additional US citizens and eligible Afghans who want to leave, continues.’

A US military aircraft takes off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday (Picture: AP)
Celebratory gunfire lit up part of the night sky after the last US aircraft took off from the airport in Kabul (Picture: Getty Images)

McKenzie did not directly address questions around how he felt about leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban after 20 years of war.

He said: ‘No words from me could possibly capture the full measure of sacrifices and accomplishments of those who serve, nor the emotions they’re feeling at this moment.

‘But I will say that I’m proud that both my son and I have been a part of it.’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in her briefing earlier on Monday did not disclose details when asked if the mission would wrap up on Monday or on the deadline day Tuesday.

The last US evacuation flight departed Afghanistan on Monday afternoon (Pictures: AP)

‘Without getting into special operational details, I think you all can expect, and the American public can expect, to hear from the president in the coming days,’ Psaki said, adding that she did not have a date and time.

Asked what the Biden administration’s message is to Americans left behind who want to get out, Psaki said, ‘we remain in touch with American citizens and we are continuing to work to evacuate’ them.

‘What our message would be is that our commitment is enduring and our commitment does not waver, even as we bring the men and women of our military home,’ she said.

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