icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

US military’s Afghanistan commander admits that hundreds of Americans left behind, but praises Taliban as ‘helpful’ in withdrawal

US military’s Afghanistan commander admits that hundreds of Americans left behind, but praises Taliban as ‘helpful’ in withdrawal
The head of US Central Command capped the completion of the 20-year war effort by praising the Taliban for aiding Kabul evacuation efforts, but acknowledged that hundreds of Americans had to be left behind.

“They were actually very helpful and useful to us as we closed down operations,” Marine General Kenneth McKenzie said of the Taliban on Monday, in a Pentagon press briefing. He added that the Islamist group helped secure the airfield at Kabul’s airport, “not perfectly, but they gave it a very good effort, and it was actually significantly helpful to us, particularly here at the end.”

The comments by McKenzie, head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), sparked fresh criticism of the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was marred by hundreds of Afghan civilian casualties and the deaths of 13 US service members in last week’s terrorist bombing at the Kabul airport.

Also on rt.com ‘War is over – Taliban won’: FINAL US flight leaves Kabul airport, ending Afghanistan airlift

In addition to having to leave without completing evacuations of all Americans in the country, the US had to leave behind thousands of Afghan allies who fear being killed at the hands of the Taliban or ISIS-K terrorists.

“This is not a victory,” former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Twitter. “It’s a national disgrace and failure of leadership.”

McKenzie’s praise of the Taliban especially struck a nerve with critics, such as Fox News contributor and former USMC Sergeant Joey Jones. “This press conference by General McKenzie has done more to undermine our service and sacrifice than anything I’ve seen in the 11 years since my injury,” said Jones, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan.

McKenzie said the Taliban had been “very pragmatic and very businesslike” as the US military mission in Afghanistan wound down. The group not only had a common interest with the Pentagon – getting US troops out of the country – he said, but the US also told them “we will hurt you” if the Taliban challenged the evacuation efforts.

Also on rt.com Biden praises US military for success of Afghanistan airlift, says diplomacy will rescue those left behind

American military officials were therefore confident that any attack amid final withdrawal efforts would come from ISIS-K, not the Taliban, McKenzie said. He added that Sunday’s US drone strike on ISIS-K terrorists – which reportedly killed 10 civilians, including seven children – disrupted the group’s ability to make a last-minute attack.

However, McKenzie said ISIS-K remains a “lethal force,” with at least 2,000 “hardcore fighters,” and will create challenges for the Taliban. He said the Taliban will suffer the consequences of freeing hundreds of ISIS-K terrorists from prison.

US forces held out hope of getting more Americans evacuated in the final hours before the last jets took off, but McKenzie said none were able to make their way to the airport. Army General Christopher Donahue and US ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson were the last two people to step on the last plane, he said, but no American civilians made it onto the last five jets to leave the country.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out who we wanted to get out, and there still would have been people who would have been disappointed with that. It’s a tough situation.”

The Biden administration has vowed to use its “leverage” against the Taliban to ensure that remaining Americans in Afghanistan and Afghan allies will be allowed to leave the country. McKenzie said that although the military disabled weapons and other equipment that it had to abandon, it left behind fire trucks and other gear needed to operate the Kabul airport to help resume civilian flights as soon as possible.

Author and Fox News host Steve Hilton said President Joe Biden withdrew from Afghanistan leaving “13 dead heroes, thousands of Americans stranded behind enemy lines, hundreds of thousands of Afghan allies betrayed” and “America’s reputation and authority in tatters. Biden must be held accountable for his weakness, cruelty and incompetence.”

Also on rt.com Psaki says deaths of 13 US troops don’t ‘take place of all the PROGRESS’ made in Kabul as Biden takes flak for Afghan nightmare

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.

Podcasts