The Taliban were in full control of Kabul’s international airport on Tuesday, after the last US plane left its runway, marking the end of America’s longest war.

A member of the Taliban (C) walks out of an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul

A member of the Taliban (C) walks out of an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul
(Wakil Kohsar / AFP)

Vehicles carrying the Taliban drove towards the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday, soon after the last US plane left its runaway marking the end of a 20-year war.

The group is now full in control of the airport. It hailed the departure of foreign troops, declaring that Afghanistan has now gained “full independence”.

“This independence belongs to the whole nation and all our people were involved in it, they have suffered hardship in these 20 years, I congratulate them all,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks to Badri 313 military unit at Kabul's airport

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks to Badri 313 military unit at Kabul’s airport
(Reuters)

However the Taliban have repeatedly promised a more tolerant and open brand of rule compared with their first stint in power.

“We want to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all,” Mujahid said.

Taliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

Taliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul
(Reuters)

America’s longest war took the lives of an estimated 240,000 Afghans and 2,500 US troops, and cost some $2 trillion.

Taliban fighters sit in the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul

Taliban fighters sit in the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul
(Wakil Kohsar / AFP)

The Taliban’s “special forces” were also present at the airport – soldiers in new uniforms equipped with looted American equipment.

Taliban forces stand guard a day after the U.S. troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

Taliban forces stand guard a day after the U.S. troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul
(Reuters)

Pictures and videos of fighters in the so-called “Badri 313” unit have been posted online by the group to underline how the Taliban have better equipped and trained men at their disposal than in the past.

Taliban Badri special force fighters take a position at the airport in Kabul

Taliban Badri special force fighters take a position at the airport in Kabul
(Wakil Kohsar / AFP)

The soldiers are shown in uniforms, boots, balaclavas and body armour similar to those worn by special forces around the world – unlike the shalwar kameez, turban and sandals of the traditional Taliban fighter.

‘Fear and uncertainty’

While there was triumph and elation on one side as the Taliban celebrated their victory, fear and uncertainly prevailed on the other side among Afghans.

Thousands of Afghans have already fled the country, fearing Taliban reprisals.

More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in a massive but chaotic airlift by the United States and its allies over the past two weeks, but many of those who helped Western nations during the war were left behind.

Afghans who remember the Taliban’s brutal rule from 1996-2001 have watched with growing fear as the group took over the country while international forces withdraw.

Many fear the Taliban will reverse two decades of gains by women and ethnic minorities while restricting the work of journalists and NGO workers.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies





Source link