President Joe Biden will address the nation later today – nearly 24 hours after the final US troops left Afghanistan in a frantic exit that cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members and more than 180 Afghans.

Soon after the final US transport planes left Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport – marking the end of America’s longest war – Biden only issued a statement thanking the US military for their service.

Biden, who has drawn fierce criticism for the botched withdrawal, is set to address the situation at 1:30 pm today.

“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,” Biden said in his Monday statement.

“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended.”

The president added that he “will address the American people on my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31” in his remarks later today.  

Moments after the final five US military transport planes lifted out of Kabul late Monday, the Taliban celebrated with a hail of gunfire and fireworks as they stormed the airport.

A Military aircraft takes off at the Hamid Karzai International Airport as the deadline to evacuate all troops reaches the end.
A Military aircraft takes off at the Hamid Karzai International Airport as the deadline to evacuate all troops reaches the end.
EPA/STRINGER
Taliban forces arrive at Kabul's airport to secure it after the last US military craft takes off.
Taliban forces arrive at Kabul’s airport to secure it after the last US military craft takes off.
AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi
Afghanistan refugees disembark from a US air force aircraft in Spain on August 31, 2021.
Afghanistan refugees disembark from a US air force aircraft in Spain on August 31, 2021.
CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images
A US soldier walks through shelters in Ramstein which doubles as a haven for those who were evacuated from Afghanistan.
A US soldier walks through shelters in Ramstein which doubles as a haven for those who were evacuated from Afghanistan.
Uwe Anspach/picture alliance via Getty Images

Footage released by the Taliban showed heavily armed fighters examining multiple Chinook helicopters, vehicles and weapons left behind by US troops at the airport.

Hamid Karzai had become a US-controlled island as the chaotic evacuations ramped up in the last two weeks after the Taliban seized control of the war-torn country on Aug. 15.

13 US service members and more than 170 Afghans were killed at an airport gate last Thursday when an ISIS suicide bomber set off an explosion. Two weeks earlier, several Afghans were killed during tarmac stampedes as thousands desperately tried to board US evacuation flights.

Taliban forces outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Taliban forces outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
EPA/STRINGER
Taliban special force fighters secure the inside of Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal.
Taliban special force fighters secure the inside of Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military’s withdrawal.
AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi
President Joe Biden is expected to address the American people at 1:30 pm on August 31, 2021.
President Joe Biden is expected to address the American people at 1:30 pm on August 31, 2021.
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A damaged car which was the source of a rocket being launched at the Kabul airport as US forces attempted to evacuate.
A damaged car which was the source of a rocket being launched at the Kabul airport as US forces attempted to evacuate.
Kabir/Xinhua via Getty Images

More than 79,000 civilians were flown out of the airport on US military aircraft the last two weeks — including 6,000 Americans and 73,500 Afghans and third-country citizens.

The number of evacuated civilians grew to more than 123,000 when accounting for those flown out by members of the US-led coalition.

Up to 200 American citizens and thousands more Afghan allies have been left behind.

Republicans have accused Biden of abandoning US citizens in the Taliban-controlled country after the president vowed last week not to leave any American behind.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US military’s Central Command, said Monday that he believes those still in Afghanistan will be able to leave.

“We did not get out everybody we had wanted to get out,” McKenzie said. “There are Americans for a variety of reasons who want to stay for a while.”



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