The US Army destroyed planes, armor and a missile defense system before completely leaving Kabul airport on Monday night (30) local time. The information was confirmed by the head of the US Forces Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie.
The country’s troops, who were supposed to complete their withdrawal on Tuesday (31), anticipated and left, in the last plane, at 23:59 local time (16:29 Brasília) on Monday. The exit operation has rescued 122,000 people since August 14, the day before the Taliban took the Afghan capital.
The final flights did not take civilians; in the last, the last to board were Ambassador Ross Wilson and General Chris Donahue, commander of the country’s military forces on Afghan soil — a photo shows the moment as he prepares to board the plane.
With the departure of the Americans, Taliban forces consolidate the return to power in Afghanistan after 20 years, and spokesmen for the group celebrated what they called independence. One of the questions that remain over the formation of this new government — not counting the promises of moderation — is its real power.
According to McKenzie, before completing the troop withdrawal, US soldiers “demilitarized” 73 planes. “These devices will never fly again, they will not be usable,” he said. The Pentagon had deployed 6,000 troops to occupy and maintain Kabul airport since Aug. 14, and left 70 landmine-resistant armored vehicles, worth $1 million each, and 27 Humvees, a kind of military utility vehicle, at the site. . All this equipment has been disabled.
The US Army also left behind a missile defense system, which stopped five rockets fired at the airport on Monday morning. The action was claimed by EI-K (Islamic State Khorasan), the Afghan arm of the notorious terrorist group, responsible for the attack that killed more than 180 people last Thursday (26). “We decided to leave these systems running until the last minute,” just before the last plane took off, McKenzie said.
In recent days, with the chaos seen at Kabul airport, with Afghans crowding in search of an escape route and threats —in addition to the bombing itself— disrupting rescue operations, the US continued to tensely coordinate with the Taliban, rated by the White House as a lesser evil.
There is, apart from McKenzie’s count of unused items, no estimate of the arsenal left behind by the country. Some of the equipment of the relatively well-equipped Afghan armed forces is now also under Taliban control. The extremist group even has an Air Force, which took over some of the Brazilian Super Tucano fighters whose pilots were unable to escape.