Taliban says Afghanistan ‘free and sovereign nation’ as it hails US exit

The Taliban said Afghanistan is a “free and sovereign” nation as the armed group hails the exit of US troops after 20 years of occupation, describing their departure as a “historic moment.”

Taliban on Tuesday took charge of Kabul’s airport as the last US soldiers flew out of the country, Al Jazeera reported.

“We do not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation,” speaking to reporters from Kabul airport on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“America was defeated… and on behalf of my nation, we want to have good relations with the rest of the world,” he added.

Earlier, 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).

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

Mujahid said the Taliban’s victory was a “lesson for other invaders”.

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

US President Joe Biden has released a statement confirming the end of America’s 20-year military presence in Afghanistan .

“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” he said. “The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States. Ending the mission as planned was “the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground”, he said.