Victorious Taliban Says Defeat of U.S. Is a Lesson to the World

The Taliban has hailed the American withdrawal from Afghanistan as a "lesson for other invaders" after the last U.S. military aircraft left the country, effectively ending two decades of war.

The Taliban celebrated at Kabul's airport on Tuesday with congratulatory messages and celebratory gunshots fired in the air, AFP reported. Newsweek previously broke the news that a U.S. Air Force C17 strategic transport aircraft left Afghanistan on Monday at 11:59 p.m. local time, close to President Joe Biden's August 31 deadline to end U.S. military presence in the country.

"Congratulations to Afghanistan," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters from the runway. "This victory belongs to us all."

While the Taliban's takeover was a "lesson for other invaders," Mujahid said, he also expressed a desire to improve ties with the U.S. and international community.

"We want to have good relations with the U.S. and the world," he said, according to AFP. "We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all."

The Taliban has insisted it has evolved towards a more moderate platform, but reports of fighters hunting for Afghans who worked with U.S. forces and working women being asked to stay home have raised fears over a potential resurgence of the group's brutal rule in the 1990s.

Shortly after the Taliban took Kabul on August 15, the capital's airport experienced harrowing and chaotic scenes as Afghans desperately sought to flee the country, with many clinging onto departing aircraft.

On Thursday, a suicide bombing outside the airport killed over 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. The attack was claimed by ISIS-K, a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Amid the U.S. evacuation efforts on Monday, several rockets were fired at Kabul's airport. There were no casualties, and it is unclear who is responsible for the attack.

In the wake of its withdrawal, the U.S. left behind disabled military planes, armored vehicles and defense equipment at Kabul's airport.

In a Monday press briefing at the Pentagon, Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie said the military's C-RAM (counter rocket, artillery, and mortar) system—used to intercept five rockets fired towards the airport's on Sunday—was demilitarized and "will never be used again."

McKenzie went on to say up to 70 MRAPs were "demilitarized," 27 Humvees will "never be driven again" and 73 military planes that "will never fly again."

"They won't be operated by anyone," McKenzie said of the aircraft. "Most of them were non-mission capable to begin with, but certainly they'll never be able to be flown again."

Taliban fighters stand guard at Kabul's airport
Taliban fighters stand guard near an Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 31, 2021, after the U.S. has pulled all its troops out of the country to end a brutal 20-year war. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images