The airport that in latest weeks had been the epicenter of a frantic Western evacuation mission was remodeled right into a stage for Taliban celebrations after the ultimate US airplane departed simply earlier than midnight on Monday, bringing an finish to America’s longest battle.
Movies confirmed Taliban fighters filling the evening air with gunfire and strolling by means of the airport. Because the solar rose on Tuesday, footage confirmed the militants making their means by means of an deserted hanger strewn with gear the US left behind.
In a single video, militants wearing US-style uniforms and holding US-made weapons examined a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter parked inside a hangar. Taliban fighters have been additionally seen posing for pictures whereas sitting within the cockpits of planes and helicopters that after belonged to the Afghan Air Drive.
However Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby informed CNN Tuesday he wasn’t “overly involved about these pictures” of Taliban fighters inspecting the deserted plane.
“They will examine all they need,” Kirby stated. “They will have a look at them, they’ll stroll round — however they can not fly them. They cannot function them.”
He added that the US army had made “unusable all of the gear that’s on the airport — all of the plane, all the bottom automobiles.
“The one factor that we left operable is a few hearth vehicles and a few fork lifts, in order that the airport itself can stay extra operational going ahead,” he stated.
Victory and uncertainty
Standing on the airport runway on Tuesday morning, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid informed a small crowd that “This victory belongs to us all.”
He was joined by closely armed fighters from the Taliban’s Badri 313 particular forces brigade, kitted out in camouflage uniforms and desert boots.
Mujahid congratulated the Taliban fighters lined up, and certainly “the entire of the nation.” He stated the Taliban needed to have “good relations with the US and the world.”
On Tuesday morning, Afghanistan’s roughly 38 million folks woke to a brand new part of the Taliban’s takeover of the nation for the primary time because the Nineteen Nineties, when it imposed a barbaric interpretation of Sharia regulation that banned women from faculty, stoned ladies for adultery, and plunged the nation into financial disaster.
The Taliban have pledged to manipulate extra reasonably this time round, and stated they’d nonetheless permit international nationals and Afghans with correct documentation to go away the nation after August 31. However many Afghans are skeptical of their claims, and big query marks grasp over the Taliban’s capability to run the nation.
Airport a lifeline
An instantaneous problem for the Taliban will probably be securing Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport, an important lifeline to the remainder of the world — each for Afghans and international nationals wanting to go away, and for support to get in.
Afghanistan is closely reliant on international support, and the WHO and UNICEF have already struggled to get essential meals and medical provides to the airport amid the mass evacuation operation.
Restarting industrial flights will even be essential for folks nonetheless wanting to go away the nation however who didn’t make it onto army evacuation planes.
Greater than 123,000 folks have been evacuated by American and coalition plane since August 14, US Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie stated Monday.
The overwhelming majority of those — round 79,000 — have been evacuated by the US in what McKenzie known as the “largest non-combatant evacuation” within the army’s historical past.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated the US and allies have been discussing methods to reopen the airport as rapidly as doable to facilitate secure journey out of Afghanistan for Individuals, US authorized everlasting residents and Afghans who labored with the US.
“We mentioned how we are going to work collectively to facilitate secure journey out of Afghanistan, together with by reopening Kabul’s civilian airport quickly as doable,” Blinken stated.
“And we very a lot recognize the efforts of Qatar and Turkey, specifically, to make this occur. This is able to allow a small variety of each day constitution flights, which is a key for anybody who desires to depart from Afghanistan shifting ahead.”
Turkey’s Overseas Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, stated Sunday that Ankara had been in talks with the Taliban about offering technical assist to function Kabul airport, Reuters reported.
Cavusoglu stated inspection studies confirmed that runways, towers and terminals, together with these within the civilian aspect of the airport, have been broken and wanted repairing.
The rocket strikes occurred simply days after two suicide bomb assaults on the airport killed greater than 170 folks, together with 13 American service members.