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U.S. ends 20-year war in Afghanistan with final evacuation



(Last Updated On: August 31, 2021)

The United States on Monday completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan after a huge but chaotic airlift that cost the lives of 13 U.S. troops and left behind thousands of Afghans and hundreds of Americans still seeking an escape from Taliban rule, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters in a first in the nearly 20 years since al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks plunged the United States into war, not a “single service member” from the U.S. military was in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said in an afternoon news conference.

“Heartbreak” was the word that U.S. Marine General Frank McKenzie used as he described emotions surrounding the U.S. departure from its longest war after dangerous and tireless efforts by U.S. troops to evacuate American citizens and vulnerable Afghans.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” McKenzie, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon news briefing.

The top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was aboard the last C-17 military transport flight out of Kabul’s airport at 11:59 p.m. Kabul time, along with the commanding general of the U.S. military’s 82nd Airborne Division, Reuters reported.

More than 122,000 people have been flown out of Kabul since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban – which harbored the al Qaeda militant group behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington – regained control of the country.

“But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out,” McKenzie said.

As the U.S. troops departed, they destroyed more than 70 aircraft, dozens of armored vehicles and disabled air defenses that had thwarted an attempted ISIS-K, locally known as Daesh rocket attack on the eve of the U.S. departure, Reuters reported.

Having failed to anticipate the Taliban would prevail so quickly, Washington and its NATO allies were forced into a hasty exit, leaving behind thousands of Afghans who helped them and may have qualified for evacuation and others who feel at risk.

The emergency air evacuation came to an end a minute before a Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who inherited a troop withdrawal deal made with the Taliban by his predecessor, Donald Trump, and decided to complete the pullout without preconditions.

Biden’s decision has led to the biggest crisis of his young presidency and raised far-reaching questions about the capability of Western democracies to build lasting institutions in their image overseas, and their willingness in the future to do so, Reuters reported.

The swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has drawn comparisons to the capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese forces in 1975 and shaken generations of U.S. veterans who served there and watched the wars’ final days with sadness.

Biden, in a statement, commended U.S. troops for carrying out the largest airlift in U.S. history “with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve.” “Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” he said.

According to the Reuters nearly 2,500 Americans have been killed in the conflict, including 13 troops in a suicide bombing by ISIS-K, locally known as Daesh, last week outside the airport. Many of them were just babies when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place.

McKenzie said the Taliban helped secure the airfield as the United States carried out the evacuation. But he cited a rare convergence of interests: The Taliban wanted the United States out of Afghanistan, and the United States wanted to leave, Reuters said.

But he warned that the Taliban would have difficulty grappling with ISIS-K, a fierce enemy of both the West and the Taliban. He declined to speculate about future cooperation with the Taliban following the U.S. departure, even as Biden has promised to hunt down Islamic State militants responsible for last week’s bombing.

“They (the Taliban) let a lot of those people … out of prisons and now they’re going to be able to reap what they sow,” McKenzie said.

The withdrawal opens a new chapter in the U.S. effort to keep pressure on groups it sees as mortal enemies, including ISIS-K,and al Qaeda.

Following the suicide attack last week, the U.S. military flew in drones for strikes in Afghanistan on Friday and Sunday to attack ISIS-K. Experts warn that U.S. intelligence is far harder to collect from overseas and strikes are more risky, Reuters reported.

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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Taiwan announces $1 million for Afghan earthquake relief efforts



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Taiwan will donate $1 million to Afghan earthquake relief efforts in response to a call from the United Nations and others for humanitarian assistance, the government said late on Thursday.

Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement that the government would donate “based on the spirit of humanitarian care for disaster relief regardless of national borders (and) responding to the United Nations and other humanitarian calls,” Reuters reported.

However Taiwan will not send search and rescue teams after consulting with other countries and considering the difficulty of transportation, office spokesman Xavier Chang added.

Taiwan also lies in a quake-prone zone and regularly sends rescue teams to other disaster areas around the world.

China meanwhile has said it stands ready to provide Afghanistan aid, and on Friday its foreign ministry said that it is “stepping up efforts” to collect cash, tents, bed quilts and other humanitarian aid to deliver to Afghanistan as soon as possible, but did not offer details of the size of the aid package.

Around 1,000 people are already confirmed dead from the quake in a remote part of the country this week.

Earlier, the European Union announced 1 million euros for the earthquake relief efforts in Afghanistan.

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India reopens embassy in Kabul



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

India reopened its embassy in Kabul on Thursday, more than 10 months after closing it following the takeover of the city by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

Indian media reported that New Delhi has sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul.

The move comes a few weeks after a team headed by senior Indian foreign ministry official J.P. Singh travelled to Kabul and met with IEA officials.

The Indian embassy will become the 15th mission to open in Kabul under the rule of IEA, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states.

“In order to closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has reached Kabul today and has been deployed in our Embassy there,” Indian foreign ministry said in an announcement, citing India’s “historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people” as the reason for the decision.

IEA welcomed India’s move to reopen its embassy in Kabul.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of IEA’s foreign ministry, called on India to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans.

India meanwhile has sent its first consignment of earthquake relief aid to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 people have been killed by the disaster.

India’s foreign ministry said the assistance was handed over by the Indian team that travelled aboard an Indian Air Force Ilyushin-76 aircraft, in the first such military, non-commercial transportation since last year.

In a separate development, Afghan Interior Ministry called for Afghan military cadets trained in India and other countries to return to the country and serve their people.

“Afghan cadets trained in India and other countries are a source of our national strength,” the Interior Ministry said on Twitter. “The Interior Ministry of the Islamic Emirate is ready to recruit these graduates according to their education & profession. Hopefully, they will return to the country & serve their people.”

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