The Taliban are celebrating their return to power after they took charge of Kabul airport following the departure of the last US troops from Afghanistan.
The Afghan group said on Tuesday Afghanistan is now a “free and sovereign” nation as it hailed the exit of US troops, describing their departure as a “historic moment”.
“Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters from the runway of the Hamid Karzai International airport.
“America was defeated, they could not achieve their targets through military operations,” he said.
The United States’s longest military conflict drew to a close on Monday night when its forces left Kabul airport, where it had overseen a frenzied airlift that saw more than 123,000 people evacuated since the Taliban took over on August 15.
Taliban fighters swept into the airport and fired weapons into the sky across the city in jubilation – an astonishing return after US forces invaded in 2001 and toppled them for their links to al-Qaeda, which was blamed for the 9/11 attacks.
Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, announced that the last American troops flew out of Kabul just before midnight local time (19:30 GMT).
“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we stayed another 10 days, we would not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”