- A crowd poured into the streets of Khost, Afghanistan, carrying makeshift coffins draped with the US, UK, and French flags.
- Those gathered were waving the white Taliban flag, rejoicing at the US withdrawing its last troops.
- The Taliban also celebrated in Kabul, firing off guns and posing in US air force jets.
Taliban supporters in the eastern Afghanistan city of Khost were seen pouring onto the streets and carrying out a mock funeral procession for the US and its allies.
The crowd was seen waving Taliban flags and toting firearms. The victory parade in Khost also included mock prayers over makeshift coffins that were draped with US, UK, French, and NATO flags, per Reuters.
“August 31 is our formal Freedom Day. On this day, American occupying forces and NATO forces fled the country,” said Taliban official Qari Saeed Khosti to local television station Zhman TV.
—Salman (@BBCSalman) August 31, 2021
US Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, the last US soldier out of Afghanistan, boarded a C-17 cargo plane out of Afghanistan just before midnight on August 30. The C-17 took off at 11.59 p.m. local time on Monday, one minute before President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline for the military drawdown. Donahue’s departure marked the end of a 20-year war in Afghanistan and the conclusion of a hurried and chaotic withdrawal by the US and its allies.
In the wake of the American troops’ departure, celebratory gunfire from Taliban fighters was heard in the streets. Militant fighters also commemorated the US troops’ withdrawal by posing for pictures in the cockpits of Afghan Air Force planes that were once used in the fight against them.
The Taliban’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed on August 31 that the US’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan is a “victory” that “belongs to us all.”
“We want to have good relations with the US and the world,” said Mujahid to reporters at Kabul airport, per CNN. “We hope that Afghanistan is never occupied again, and this country stays prosperous, free, a home for all Afghans and governed by the Islamic rule.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said 100 to 200 US citizens are still in Afghanistan, and said the US will continue to help Americans who want to leave the country to get out. President Joe Biden made the same promise to help American citizens leave Afghanistan in his address to the nation on Tuesday.
However, it is estimated that around 60,000 Afghan interpreters and US allies have been left behind in Afghanistan. This includes an interpreter who helped rescue Biden and former Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel during a snowstorm back in 2008.