The last U.S. forces flew out of Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Monday, bringing down the curtain on America’s longest war.
The head of the U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. Kenneth F. “Frank” McKenzie, said the final liftoff of American military aircraft came one minute before midnight in Kabul — just before the start of Tuesday, the day set by President Biden as the deadline for the departure of U.S. troops.
“Every single U.S. service member is out of Afghanistan,” McKenzie said — setting a capstone on a military presence that once exceeded 100,000 American troops and drew the U.S. into a conflict that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Within moments of the final U.S. takeoff, Taliban fighters swiftly moved into Hamid Karzai International Airport, the scene of a massive airlift that carried more than 116,000 people out of the country since the militant group seized power two weeks earlier in a swift but nearly bloodless offensive.
Marcus Yam is a foreign correspondent and photographer for the Los Angeles Times. Since joining in 2014, he has covered a wide range of topics including humanitarian issues, social justice, terrorism, foreign conflicts, natural disasters, politics and celebrity portraiture. He has been part of two Pulitzer Prize-winning breaking news teams and in 2019 was awarded the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award for his body of work documenting the everyday plight of Gazans during deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip.
Nabih Bulos is the Middle East bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. Since 2012, he has covered the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” revolution as well as the Islamic State’s resurgence and the campaign to defeat it. His work has taken him to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen as well as on the migrant trail through the Balkans and northern Europe. A Fulbright scholar, Bulos is also a concert violinist who has performed with Daniel Barenboim, Valeri Gergyev and Bono.