Taliban celebrates U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

Celebratory gunfire echoed across Kabul in Tuesday's early hours, as the last American troops withdrew from Afghanistan after two decades of war.

There were cheers and car horns honking as the last planes left the city, in what a Taliban spokesman hailed as quote "complete independence," according to Al Jazeera.

One resident said it was time to rebuild the country.

"During these 20 years, the Americans have done a lot of damage to the Afghan state. What will happen to the Afghan state after this? I appeal to all our political leaders, elders and young people, 'Let's take our matters into our own hands. How long will we remain dependent on foreigners? Let's put our homeland together ourselves.' "

The last images coming out of Afghanistan ahead of the American withdrawal marked a hasty and humiliating exit for the U.S. and its allies, after the Taliban took over Kabul with lightning speed earlier this month.

Video footage released by the Taliban on Monday showed its fighters entering the airport after the last troops flew out a minute before midnight.

And the U.S. Army shared a ghostly green image of the last U.S. soldier to step aboard a final flight, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.

In a statement on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to help what he estimated to be the hundred or so Americans still left in Afghanistan, and said Washington would hold the new Taliban government accountable.

"We engaged with the Taliban during the past few weeks to enable our evacuation operations. Going forward, any engagement with the Taliban led government in Kabul will be driven by one thing only - our vital national interest."

As U.S. troops departed, they destroyed more than 70 aircraft, dozens of armored vehicles and disabled air defenses that had thwarted an attempted Islamic State rocket attack the day prior.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the withdrawal, is expected to address the American public on Tuesday afternoon.

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