President Biden announced that all U.S. troops had left Afghanistan, a decision which the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported, he pointed out.
The president will address the American people at 1:30 pm Eastern from the White House on Tuesday. He said the speech will focus on “my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond August 31.”
“For now, I will report that it was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned,” said Biden. “Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead.”
The president previously has emphasized his own responsibility for the situation, saying two weeks ago that with respect to the Afghanistan withdrawal, “The buck stops with me.”
“I want to thank our commanders and the men and women serving under them for their execution of the dangerous retrograde from Afghanistan as scheduled – in the early morning hours of August 31, Kabul time – with no further loss of American lives,” Biden said.
The president touted the withdrawal as “the largest airlift in U.S. history.” American forces had successfully transported “over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States” in the last 17 days. He praised the “unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve” of U.S. troops.
“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” Biden announced.
TALIBAN BRAGS: US TROOPS LEFT KABUL, AFGHANISTAN ‘GAINED FULL INDEPENDENCE’
While U.S. troops have left Afghanistan, Biden said he had directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken “to lead the continued coordination with our international partners to ensure safe passage for any Americans, Afghan partners, and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan.”
He cited a UN Security Council resolution passed on Monday that urged the Taliban to guarantee “freedom of travel” for those who wish to leave the country.
Biden urged Americans to raise “grateful prayer” for the troops who carried out the withdrawal, which he called a “mission of mercy.” He concluded his remarks by listing the names of the 13 service members killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing attack.
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Biden has faced loud criticism for failing to renegotiate the deal former President Donald Trump struck with the Taliban and for committing to a full withdrawal by August 31, extending Trump’s previous deadline of May 1 but refusing to further extend it to enable all Americans who wish to leave the country to do so.
Four U.S. senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives have called for Biden to resign or for him to face the invocation of the 25th Amendment or impeachment. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz, Lauren Boebert, R-Colo, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and more have demanded Biden resign. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has called for Biden’s cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., have called for Biden’s impeachment.