UPDATED 8:15 PM PT – Monday, August 30, 2021
After 20 long years, U.S. officials said the war in Afghanistan has come to an end. Speaking from the Pentagon on Monday, General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Spokesperson John Kirby announced the official end to the war in Afghanistan.
They confirmed every U.S. service member was out of Afghanistan and the last U.S. warplanes have left the country. However, they were unable to get every American out and said the last five flights of the day had zero Americans on board, even as they were reaching out to the estimated 250 still in the country as of Monday.
Little details were given on extended evacuation efforts following the withdrawal deadline.
“The military phase of this operation has ended. The diplomatic sequel to that would now begin,” General McKenzie explained. “I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left, and we think the citizens that were not brought out number in the low, very low hundreds. I believe we’re going to be able to get those people out.”
General McKenzie went on to say it would now be the State Department’s mission to get any remaining Americans and refugees out of the country.
The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan: Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the @82ndABNDiv, @18airbornecorps boards an @usairforce C-17 on August 30th, 2021, ending the U.S. mission in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/j5fPx4iv6a
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United State’s mission in Afghanistan was far from over. Speaking from Washington on Monday, Blinken said the State Department would continue to get any remaining Americans and refugees out of Afghanistan.
Blinken added the number of Americans left in the country was likely below 100.
“We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,” he stated. “We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists. We’ll have more details to share as soon as possible.”
Blinken also laid out U.S. plans in Afghanistan moving forward after all U.S. military members officially left the country. He said the U.S. would suspend its diplomatic presence in Kabul and would operate out of Qatar for any other efforts involving Afghanistan.
“As of today, we suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar, which will soon be formally notified to Congress, given the uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan,” he explained. “It was the prudent step to take.”
I want to drive home today that America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s next, and we’re putting it into action.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 31, 2021
Blinken went on to say while the U.S. would continue to coordinate with the Taliban to get refugees and Americans out of the country, the U.S. does not trust them. He added the new Taliban-led government wanted to be seen as legitimate and would have to earn it.
“Every step we take will be based not on what a Taliban-led government says, but what it does to live up to its commitments,” he expressed. “The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is, any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Taliban said now that the U.S. is out, Afghanistan has now gained complete independence.