Afghanistan news – live: US ends 20-year war but leaves 'hundreds' of Americans in Kabul

·48-min read

The last US troops flew out of Afghanistan on Monday afternoon, ending America’s longest modern war after 20 years.

President Biden lauded the military for evacuating more than 120,000 people out of the country before the exit in what he called a “mission of mercy.” Withdrawing now, he added, was the recommendation of his top commanders, so as to protect those remaining in the country as well as US service members.

“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 White House said in a statement on Monday.

A number of Americans, Afghan allies, and others remain in the country.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” US Central Command’s General Frank McKenzie said on Monday. “But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out.”

Even after the deadline, America “will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident” and “those Afghans who helped us,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told The Associated Press.

Roughly 300 US citizens reportedly remain in the country.

The top US diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last C-17 flight out, officials noted.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to address the nation on Monday evening to detail the next steps for the US strategy in Afghanistan.

Read More

Pen Farthing and animals ‘safe’ after landing at Heathrow as charity staff trapped in Kabul

Taliban vows to purge education system of anything ‘against Islam’ as Afghan folk singer shot dead

What the pullout from Afghanistan means for the US-UK relationship

Key points

  • Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war launched in the aftermath of September 11 attacks

  • Celebratory gunfire from Taliban echoes across Kabul as US finishes withdrawal

  • Taliban enter abandoned US hangar containing Chinook helicopters

  • Biden says Afghan withdrawal was best way to avoid loss of more lives

  • 10 family members killed in US airstrike near Kabul airport....

  • White House confirms Kabul airport rocket attack, says operations 'uninterrupted'

Monday 30 August 2021 05:27 , Stuti Mishra

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Afghanistan crisis. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

Multiple rockets fired at Kabul airport, intercepted by defense system, says US official

Monday 30 August 2021 05:30 , Stuti Mishra

Multiple rockets were fired at Kabul’s international airport but were intercepted by a missile defence system, a US official told Reuters news agency citing initial information.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said as many as 5 rockets were fired, though it was not clear if all were brought down by the defence system.

The official said initial reports did not indicate any US casualties, but that information could change.

Earlier on Sunday, American forces launched a drone strike in Kabul targeting a suicide bomber in a vehicle who was aiming to attack the airport.

US intercepted multiple rockets fired at Kabul airport, says official

Taliban ‘assures’ foreign nationals can continue to leave Afghanistan after deadline, says statement

Monday 30 August 2021 05:45 , Stuti Mishra

The US, the UK and 100 countries have received “assurance” from the Taliban that it will allow foreigners and Afghans with foreign travel papers to leave the country “in a safe and orderly manner,” even after the US troop withdrawal ends Tuesday, a joint statement released late on Sunday said.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement said, which included countries like Germany, France among many others.

“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” added the statement, which was also signed by the European Union and NATO.

The group said it would continue issuing travel documents to “designated Afghans,” adding that “we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries.”

US received ‘assurances’ from Taliban that foreign nationals can continue to leave

China and Russia were not among the signatories to the document.

Rockets hit neighborhood near Kabul airport

Monday 30 August 2021 06:09 , Stuti Mishra

The rockets that were fired at the Kabul international airport on Monday struck a nearby neighbourhood, witnesses said.

Residents in Afghanistan took to Twitter to show the remnants of rockets fired which fell off their roof. Preliminary visuals also showed clouds of black smoke billowing from a residential area. One Twitter user, citing a witness, said that the “rocket exploded in the air and shrapnel’s fell like drops of rain”.

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The Salim Karwan neighbourhood of Kabul was among the impacted ones where the locals heard the explosion followed by gunfire from unknown sources immediately, the Associated Press reported.

US intercepted multiple rockets fired at Kabul airport, says official

A witness who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash in the sky.

People fled after the blasts, the witness said.

There’s no confirmation from the US officials yet about any casualty.

Permanent members of the UN Security Council to meet on Afghanistan

Monday 30 August 2021 06:27 , Stuti Mishra

The permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Britain, China, France and Russia — are to meet Monday to discuss the Afghanistan crisis.

The meeting, called by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Thursday, will not include the current 10 non-permanent members.

The members will aim to discuss the chaotic evacuation and comes as Britain and France work on a UN resolution on Afghanistan.

White House confirms Kabul airport rocket attack, says operations 'uninterrupted'

Monday 30 August 2021 06:34 , Stuti Mishra

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the rocket attack at Kabul airport and “operations continue uninterrupted,” his press secretary Jen Psaki said early on Monday.

“The president was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at (Kabul airport) HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground,” Ms Psaki said in a statement.

Afghans killed outside airport were seeking new lives abroad

Monday 30 August 2021 07:07 , Tom Batchelor

Mohammed Jan Sultani had clutched his national Taekwondo championship certificates as he waded through the multitudes pushing to get into Kabul airport late last week.

The 25-year-old athlete wasn’t on any evacuation lists. Yet he had hoped his achievements would make him and his young family special enough to be let into the gate and onto one of the flights rescuing foreigners and Afghans fleeing the Taliban

As he forged ahead, an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated two dozen pounds of explosives in the crowd just before nightfall Thursday, killing 169 Afghans, including Sultani, and 13 US service members.

Read the stories of those who dreamed of a better life outside the country but lost their lives in Thursday’s devastating attack outside Kabul airport.

Afghans killed outside airport were seeking new lives abroad

Russia offers evacuation flight for former Soviet bloc nationals

Monday 30 August 2021 07:23 , Tom Batchelor

The Russian embassy in Kabul said on Monday it was accepting applications from those seeking to leave Afghanistan on additional evacuation flights, after Moscow evacuated about 360 people from the country last week.

The embassy said in a series of tweets that the flights would be open to Russian citizens and residents as well as nationals of countries that are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a Moscow-led post-Soviet security bloc.

Those countries are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Taliban condemn US air strikes on Isis fighters

Monday 30 August 2021 07:37 , Tom Batchelor

Taliban officials have criticised the US for carrying out air strikes in Kabul apparently without warning.

The United States has carried out at least two airstrikes against Isis-K militants following a deadly suicide bombing at the airport.

The Islamist group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, called the strikes “arbitrary attacks”, according to Chinese news network CGTN.

“We condemn such attacks because it is illegal to carry out arbitrary attacks in other countries,” he said.

“If there was any potential threat, it should have been reported to us, not an arbitrary attack that has resulted in civilian casualties.”

‘Unforgivable’ failure to evacuate thousands of eligible Afghans, says Labour’s Kinnock

Monday 30 August 2021 07:49 , Tom Batchelor

Labour’s Stephen Kinnock has accused the government of an “unforgivable” failure to evacuate thousands of eligible Afghans.

“Government ministers have had 18 months to prepare for this. The French government started evacuating its people in May so it is utterly unforgivable that we have left so many behind,” the shadow foreign minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The efforts of our armed forces, our diplomats, our civil servants on the ground, have been incredibly impressive and we should be very proud of that.

“But they have been badly let down by their political masters who have failed to prepare and therefore we are in this situation where we are leaving thousands behind.”

Labour has claimed as many as 5,000 people need help to get out following the Taliban takeover and Mr Kinnock criticised the foreign secretary for failing to facilitate overland exit routes.

“It’s shocking that whilst Dominic Raab was on the sun lounger he should have been speaking with his counterparts in Pakistan and the other neighbouring countries.”

US evacuations to continue despite rocket attacks

Monday 30 August 2021 08:03 , Tom Batchelor

The White House has said evacuation operations will continue uninterrupted despite rocket attacks at Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul on Monday.

“National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chief of Staff Ron Klain have briefed the President on the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Here is the story:

Biden briefed on rocket attack at Kabul airport, says White House

Minister unsure how many people left behind in Afghanistan after UK ends evacuation flights

Monday 30 August 2021 08:12 , Tom Batchelor

Foreign office minister James Cleverly has said it was impossible to say how many people were left in Afghanistan who were eligible to come to the UK.

“That’s an impossible number to put a figure on,” he told Sky News.

He said the “vast, vast bulk” of British nationals had left Afghanistan but there were also eligible people under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme – for people who helped UK forces – and others who could be under threat from the Taliban.

“We are going to continue working to get people out who fall into those groups – predominantly now, of course, it will be in that third group – people at risk of reprisals, whether they be high-profile individuals, of religious minorities or others who may be under severe risk of reprisals from the Taliban.”

‘Empty seats' on plane bringing back Pen Farthing and his animals

Monday 30 August 2021 08:27 , Tom Batchelor

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, the former Royal Marine turned animal charity director living in Afghanistan, has told ITV’s Good Morning Britain there were “several empty seats” on his evacuation flight with around 170 rescue dogs and cats.

He said: “I went around and they reassured me that they had enough capacity for all the people that needed to leave.

“I was probably like the last person to enter that airport - it was closed. Americans, the British, had obviously stopped taking people in because there had to be a point where they stopped taking people in.

“So they assured me they had enough capacity for everybody who was inside the airport.”

Mr Farthing had vowed not to leave the country without his staff, but left accompanied only by his rescue animals and arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport in a privately funded charter flight at about 7.30am on Sunday.

Asked about an expletive-laden message he had left for a government aide, Mr Farthing said his emotions “got the better” of him.

“I’m incredibly embarrassed about my language, I do apologise to everybody who’s listened to that,” he said.

“I was at the lowest point I could possibly be. I understand how the world works but emotions got the better of me, so for all those who had to listen to that I do apologise for my language.”

Uzbekistan offers to help with Afghanistan evacuations

Monday 30 August 2021 08:55 , Tom Batchelor

Uzbekistan is willing to open its borders to people fleeing Afghanistan, Germany’s foreign minister has said.

Heiko Maas said those who were on a German list of at-risk people in the country and need to be evacuated could leave by land into Uzbekistan.

Germany has identified tens of thousands more people who need to be evacuated from Afghanistan, including German citizens, local Afghan staff and at-risk groups such as human rights activists and journalists.

Mr Maas is on a trip to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar to find ways to evacuate these people, either by plane if Kabul airport can be kept open after Nato withdraws, or overland to neighbouring countries.

“Uzbekistan is prepared to help us with this group of people,” he said.

Russian troops carry out drills near Afghan border

Monday 30 August 2021 09:14 , Tom Batchelor

Around 500 Russian troops are carrying out drills in the mountains of Tajikistan against the backdrop of instability in neighbouring Afghanistan, Russia’s defence ministry was quoted as saying on Monday.

All servicemen involved in the exercise come from the Russian military base in Tajikistan, the Interfax news agency quoted the Central Military District command as saying.

The current set of drills is the third one carried out by Russia close to the Afghan border this month.

Next month, a Russia-led security bloc will hold another exercise in Kyrgyzstan which hosts a Russian military airbase.

UK aims for pragmatic approach to Taliban

Monday 30 August 2021 09:22 , Tom Batchelor

Dominic Raab and other officials will focus on future engagement with the Taliban in a bid to find an international consensus on how to deal with Afghanistan‘s new regime, according to briefings ahead of a meeting with G7 nations today.

Diplomatic sources have suggested the foreign secretary would be setting out how the response to the Taliban must be pragmatic and based on the group’s actions.

The government has previously insisted that how the new regime in Afghanistan would be received and engaged with was a decision that had to be made in agreement with international partners.

Mr Raab will on Monday take part in a meeting with G7 counterparts, Nato, Qatar and Turkey.

Qatar emerges as key player in Afghanistan after US pullout

Monday 30 August 2021 09:42 , Tom Batchelor

Qatar played an outsized role in US efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan. Now the tiny Gulf Arab state is being asked to help shape what is next for Afghanistan because of its ties with both Washington and the Taliban, who are in charge in Kabul, reports the Associated Press.

Qatar will be among global heavyweights on Monday when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts a virtual meeting to discuss a coordinated approach for the days ahead, as the US completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.

The meeting will also include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the European Union and Nato.

Qatar has also reportedly been asked by the Taliban to provide civilian technical assistance at Kabul’s international airport, once the US military withdrawal is complete on Tuesday.

Authorities in Qatar have not commented on the reports. Meanwhile, international UN agencies are asking Qatar for help and support in delivering aid to Afghanistan.

Qatar’s role was somewhat unexpected. The nation, which shares a land border with Saudi Arabia and a vast underwater gas field in the Persian Gulf with Iran, was supposed to be a transit point for a just a few thousand people airlifted from Afghanistan over a timeline of several months.

After the surprisingly swift Taliban takeover of Kabul on 15 August, the United States looked to Qatar to help shoulder the evacuations of tens of thousands in a chaotic and hurried airlift.

In the end, nearly 40 per cent of all evacuees were moved out via Qatar, winning its leadership heaps of praise from Washington.

Save the Children ‘devastated’ by reports children among those killed in Kabul airstrike

Monday 30 August 2021 09:56 , Tom Batchelor

Save the Children has appealed to all sides in the Afghan conflict to protect youngsters caught up in the fighting after “devastating” reports that six children were among those killed in an airstrike in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

In a statement, US Central Command said it was looking into the reports of civilian casualties that may have been caused by the secondary explosions. An Afghan official said three children were killed in an airstrike.

Athena Rayburn, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns for Save the Children Afghanistan, said: “We are devastated to learn that children may have been among those killed in yesterday’s airstrike in Kabul.

“These reports, if confirmed, are a shocking reminder that airstrikes do not discriminate between armed actors and innocent children.

“It is deeply saddening that children continue to pay with their lives for this brutal conflict.

“Repeatedly this year, children have been the victims of indiscriminate attacks by explosive weapons.

“There can be no justification for these assaults on children as they go about their everyday lives.

“We appeal to all those involved in this terrible conflict to protect civilians and children at all times and to keep them out of harm’s way.”

James Cleverly defends Foreign Office response on Pen Farthing

Monday 30 August 2021 10:11 , Tom Batchelor

EU to seek to stop mass Afghanistan migration flows, draft statement says

Monday 30 August 2021 10:42 , Tom Batchelor

European Union interior ministers will say on Tuesday that they are determined to act to prevent more “uncontrolled large-scale illegal migration movements” from Afghanistan, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

Ministers will gather for an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the fallout from the Afghanistan crisis.

The ministers will pledge to stop new security threats from Afghanistan for EU citizens, as well as making the right security checks for those evacuated, said the draft statement dated 28 August and prepared for Tuesday’s meeting.

Britain and France to call for UN safe zone around Kabul airport for Afghans fleeing Taliban

Monday 30 August 2021 10:58 , Tom Batchelor

Britain and France are to put forward an emergency UN resolution calling for a safe zone at Kabul airport so people can continue to fly out of Afghanistan, Emmanuel Macron has said.

The comments by the French president come after the UK airlift evacuation operation ended at the weekend, leaving at least 1,000 Afghans eligible to come to Britain stuck in Kabul and the surrounding country.

Here is the story:

Britain and France to call for UN safe zone around Kabul airport

Sign up to our free exclusive virtual event ‘Afghanistan: A nation abandoned?’

Monday 30 August 2021 11:12 , Tom Batchelor

The Independent has provided decades of award winning journalistic coverage from the ground in Afghanistan.

And now we are holding a webinar Afghanistan: An abandoned nation? to discuss the future Afghanistan faces and what lessons can be learned from the past.

The panel will be hosted by foreign editor David Harding and the panel will consist of foreign correspondent and commentator Patrick Cockburn, Camelia Entekhbifard, editor of Independent Persian, and Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayell, a commander who was the Middle East advisor in the Ministry of Defence and myself, the Defence and Diplomatic Editor.

Sign up here:

Afghanistan: A nation abandoned? Sign up to our exclusive virtual event

Monday 30 August 2021 11:31 , Tom Batchelor

Supplied by Statista https://www.statista.com/chartoftheday/ (Statista)
Supplied by Statista https://www.statista.com/chartoftheday/ (Statista)

‘Larger crisis is just beginning,’ warns UNHCR

Monday 30 August 2021 11:41 , Tom Batchelor

“A larger crisis is just beginning” in Afghanistan and for its 39 million people, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Monday, as it issued an urgent appeal for support.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whose agency said on Friday that up to 500,000 Afghans could flee by the end of the year, reiterated a call for borders to remain open and for more countries to share their “humanitarian responsibility” with Iran and Pakistan, which already host 2.2 million Afghans.

“The airlifts out of Kabul will end in a matter of days, and the tragedy that has unfolded will no longer be as visible. But it will still be a daily reality for millions of Afghans,” Mr Grandi said in a statement.

“We must not turn away. A far greater humanitarian crisis is just beginning.”

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Government’s plan for Afghans left behind by airlift branded ‘half-baked’ by Kindertransport evacuee Lord Dubs

Monday 30 August 2021 11:56 , Tom Batchelor

Plans being devised by UK ministers to use processing hubs in third countries for Afghans eligible to come to Britain have been labelled a “half-baked idea” by the peer and former child refugee Alf Dubs.

Lord Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child via the Kindertransport rescue mission, told The Independent there were “so many unknowns” about the potential plans, as Conservative MPs also demanded that more details be published.

The last civilian evacuation flight left the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, but ministers estimate that over 1,000 people thought to be eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) did not make it onto a flight.

Here is the story:

UK’s plan for Afghans left behind by airlift is ‘half-baked’, says Lord Dubs

Dominic Raab ‘toast in the next reshuffle’

Monday 30 August 2021 12:12 , Tom Batchelor

After Dominic Raab was roundly condemned for what his critics said was a botched handling of the Afghanistan crisis – he stayed on holiday in Crete as the Taliban swept across the country – a government source has claimed that the foreign secretary is “toast in the next reshuffle”.

The government insider told The Sunday Times that the Foreign Office “is a poorly-led organisation with a control freak in charge who won’t delegate anything”.

But Foreign Office minister James Cleverly insisted the allegations about the foreign secretary’s style of leadership were “not true”.

He told Times Radio: “I don’t know where that’s where that’s coming from. The organisation that I see really sprang quickly into an activity that was at a scale and nature that was unprecedented.”

Asked directly whether Mr Raab was a “control freak”, Mr Cleverly said: “No, that’s not true. It’s not true.”

1,200 people evacuated from Kabul on Sunday, says White House

Monday 30 August 2021 12:41 , Tom Batchelor

US forces evacuated around 1,200 people from Kabul on Sunday, the White House has said.

America has the capacity to evacuate the approximately 300 US citizens remaining in Afghanistan who want to leave before President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline, according to senior administration officials.

“This is the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission these last couple of days,” said the country’s top diplomat, Antony Blinken.

The steady stream of US military jets taking off and landing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital has continued on Monday even after rocket fire targeted the airport.

Core US diplomatic staff have left Kabul

Monday 30 August 2021 13:03 , Tom Batchelor

The final stages of the US departure from Kabul airport is now under way, a US official has told Reuters, with "core diplomatic staff" having departed.

There has been a steady stream of US military C-17 cargo jets taking off and landing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital.

On Tuesday, the US is set to conclude a massive two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban back in power.

Islamic State claims responsibility for rocket attack on Kabul airport

Monday 30 August 2021 13:17 , Tom Batchelor

Isis has claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Kabul airport on Monday, the group’s Nasher News said on its Telegram channel, Reuters has reported.

“By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate targeted Kabul International Airport with six Katyusha rockets,” it said.

US anti-missile defences intercepted as many as five rockets fired at Kabul’s airport early on Monday, a US official said.

Pen Farthing ‘embarrassed’ by expletive-laden message to government aide

Monday 30 August 2021 13:30 , Tom Batchelor

A former Royal Marine who left a foul-mouthed voicemail for a senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) advisor while fighting to evacuate 200 dogs and cats from Afghanistan has apologised for his language.

Paul “Pen” Farthing said his emotions had “got the better” of him when leaving his expletive-laden rant for Peter Quentin, a special advisor to the defence secretary Ben Wallace.

The former soldier, who served in Afghanistan before setting up an animal rescue charity called Nowzad, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he was “incredible embarrassed” after the voicemail was leaked to The Times over the weekend.

Here is the story:

Pen Farthing ‘embarrassed’ by expletive-laden message to government aide

Woman journalist who made history after interviewing Taliban spokesperson flees Afghanistan

Monday 30 August 2021 13:52 , Tom Batchelor

The reporter who interviewed a Taliban spokesperson after they seized power this month has fled Afghanistan as questions linger over the future of female journalists in the country.

Beheshta Arghan of Tolo News, Afghanistan’s only international channel, interviewed Taliban spokesperson Mawlawi Abdullhaq Hemad on 17 August and grilled him over concerns of women’s rights under their rule following Taliban’s overtake of power in Kabul and fall of Ashraf Ghani government that week.

The interview was broadcast live on the channel and drew attention as Ms Arghan was the only Afghan female journalist to interview one of the fighters of the group.

Here is the story:

Woman journalist who interviewed Taliban spokesperson flees Afghanistan

EU must share burden of Afghan collapse, says top diplomat

Monday 30 August 2021 14:21 , Tom Batchelor

A senior EU diplomat has said the bloc must play its part in helping stranded Afghans and described the situation as a “failure for the West”.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Josep Borrell, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, and a vice-president of the European Commission, said: “We Europeans share our part of responsibility. We cannot consider that this was just an American war.”

He said it was time to establish a European force for crises such as this “because the Americans will no longer fight the wars of others”.

He added: “This is primarily a catastrophe for the Afghans , a failure for the West and a turning point for international relations. But is it the end of the war? It is the end of the Western military presence in Afghanistan. I’m not sure the Afghans themselves won’t start fighting each other.

“But for us this is certainly not the end of the matter, because we must continue to support the people in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan stands on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, warns Rory Stewart

Monday 30 August 2021 14:38 , Tom Batchelor

Former international development secretary Rory Stewart warned that Afghanistan stands on the brink of a humanitarian disaster if international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are forced to pull out.

Mr Stewart told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “The most important thing for the West to do is not to make the situation worse. Afghanistan is now on the edge of a real humanitarian catastrophe.

“The Afghan government, which is now obviously the Taliban government, is running out of money. It’s going to be very difficult to keep the water supply and electricity going.

“Much of the healthcare and education in the country is delivered by foreign NGOs and agencies. At the moment there is no clarity at all from Britain, the US and others on how they are going to continue supporting these development and humanitarian projects on the ground.

“So the most important thing we can do is to try to focus on looking after Afghans inside the country now - most of them will not be able to get out.”

Isis claim responsibility for rocket attack on Kabul airport

Monday 30 August 2021 14:56 , Tom Batchelor

More on the claims by Isis that the terror group was behind a rocket attack on Kabul airport.

A spokesperson for the terror group said militants fired “six Katyusha rockets” at the airport on Monday morning.

Here is the full story:

ISIS claim responsibility for rocket attack on Kabul airport

Taliban seen apparently flying Black Hawk helicopter over Kandahar

Monday 30 August 2021 15:21 , Tom Batchelor

Unverified reports on social media suggest the Taliban have flown a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over Kandahar.

Video showed the aircraft over a built-up area of the city.

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Separate footage appeared to show someone being lowered from the helicopter as it hovered over the city.

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Scottish Afghan charity has staff trapped in Kabul

Monday 30 August 2021 15:45 , Tom Batchelor

A Scottish Afghan charity has said its staff trapped in Kabul have been forced to return to their homes after a “relentless 46 hours” facing gunfire at the city’s airport.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation was set up in memory of a Scots aid worker who was killed after being kidnapped by the Taliban.

Ms Norgrove’s parents, John and Lorna, established the charity as a way of continuing their daughter’s work after she died in an attempted rescue by US forces in 2010.

The foundation previously said it has two staff, sisters aged 25 and 29, who were “holed up in their flat in Kabul” after the Taliban seized control of the city.

In a statement on Twitter, it said evacuation attempts had so far failed.

“Thanks to all of you who supported our campaign to evacuate our staff, and to all who worked behind the scenes,” it said.

“Although not successful at this time, we are continuing to support our staff in Kabul and are still working towards their eventual evacuation.”

It added: “After a relentless 46 hours at the airport entrance, either in a bus or a panicky crowd, with incessant gunfire and the constant, real threat of a terrorist bomb, our staff and their family returned home safely.”

Pen Farthing still working to evacuate charity staff

Monday 30 August 2021 15:59 , Tom Batchelor

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing is still working to get his animal charity staff out of Kabul after he arrived in the UK on Sunday morning accompanied only by his rescue cats and dogs.

He said: “We’d like to thank the Home Office, FCDO, MoD and all of Govt for their support with Op Ark, and look forward to working closely with them over the coming weeks whilst we complete our mission, getting those 68 people out of Afghanistan and back to safety.

“Whilst those vulnerable staff, mostly young women, remain in danger in Afghanistan, we shall not rest.

“In the same way that the MoD needs to be left alone to get on with the important work of evacuating staff and troops out of Afghanistan, likewise we need to focus on the second and most important part of Op Ark, getting those vulnerable vets and vet nurses and their children out of Kabul, rather than having to deal with ill-informed comments from MPs, the press and armchair pundits.”

Afghanistan's healthcare system near collapse, aid agencies warn

Monday 30 August 2021 16:12 , Tom Batchelor

Afghanistan‘s healthcare system is at risk of collapse, two major aid agencies have told Reuters, after foreign donors stopped providing funding following the Taliban takeover – including the World Bank and European Union.

“One of the great risks for the health system here is basically to collapse because of lack of support,” said Filipe Ribeiro, Afghanistan representative for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of the largest medical aid agencies in the country.

“The overall health system in Afghanistan is understaffed, under-equipped and underfunded, for years. And the great risk is that this underfunding will continue over time.”

Global coalition pledges to keep fighting Isis after Kabul attack

Monday 30 August 2021 16:22 , Sam Hancock

The group of countries that have banded together to fight Islamic State, including the US, released a statement on Monday pledging to work to eliminate the group.

They specifically took aim at the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, Isis-K, which took responsibility for Monday’s rocket attack on Kabul’s airport.

“We will draw on all elements of national power, military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, law enforcement to ensure the defeat of this brutal terrorist organisation,” the coalition said in a statement released by the US State Department.

It also said the countries would “identify and bring their members to justice”.

An image allegedly showing the Isis fighter who carried out a bombing at Kabul airport on Thursday (Grab)
An image allegedly showing the Isis fighter who carried out a bombing at Kabul airport on Thursday (Grab)

WHO brings in first aid to north Afghanistan

Monday 30 August 2021 16:32 , Sam Hancock

A plane provided by the government of Pakistan has brought medicine and health supplies from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to Afghanistan.

WHO said Monday’s shipment was the first of medical supplies to land in Afghanistan since the country came under control of the Taliban two weeks ago.

The plane, which departed from Dubai, landed in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, fell to the Taliban on 14 August, a day before Kabul.

WHO said the supplies included trauma kits and emergency health kits enough to cover the basic needs of more than 200,000 people, as well as treat 6,500 trauma patients. It said the supplies will be delivered to 40 health facilities in 29 provinces across Afghanistan.

The agency added it was “a reliable humanitarian air bridge is urgently required”.

“The demanding humanitarian work of meeting the needs of tens of millions of vulnerable Afghans who remain in the country is now beginning,” WHO said.

UK ‘long way’ from officially recognising Taliban - minister

Monday 30 August 2021 16:52 , Sam Hancock

The UK is a “long way” from offering diplomatic recognition to the Taliban in Afghanistan, a Foreign Office minister said on Monday.

It comes as international powers considered how to deal with the new regime in Kabul.

James Cleverly said the Taliban would be judged on its actions as an intensive round of diplomacy began in Washington and at the United Nations.

The Taliban has been urged to allow safe passage to people seeking to leave Afghanistan as Mr Cleverly acknowledged it was impossible to say how many people eligible to come to the UK were still in the country.

Around 15,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan in a “herculean” effort, Mr Cleverly said, but Labour has claimed around 5,000 may have been left behind and ministers have faced criticism over the UK response.

Mr Cleverly acknowledged some emails about desperate Afghans seeking to leave may not have been read in the Foreign Office as priority in the evacuation effort was given to people who could be processed and reached Kabul airport before the airlift ended.

US forces are due to leave Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Senator repeats call for Biden to be impeached

Monday 30 August 2021 16:59 , Sam Hancock

South Carolina’s senator Lindsay Graham has repeated a call for Joe Biden to be impeached over his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He said the president “ignored sound advice” and has “been this way for 40 years,” reports Clara Hill.

“I think it’s a dereliction of duty to leave hundreds of Americans behind enemy lines, turn them into hostages, to abandon thousands of Afghans who fought honourably along our side, to create conditions for another 9/11 that are now through the roof,” the Republican lawmaker told CBS’ Face The Nation after being asked about his initial call for Mr Biden’s impeachment by host Ed O’Keefe.

He first called for Mr Biden to be impeached a week ago while appearing on Newsmax.

The Republican and Mr Biden previously had a notable friendship, which began when they were both serving in the Senate.

Lindsay Graham repeats call for Joe Biden to be impeached over Afghanistan withdrawl

Raab holds talks over ‘safe passage’ of Afghan refugees

Monday 30 August 2021 17:23 , Sam Hancock

In talks between Dominic Raab and counterparts from nations including the US, France and Germany, the foreign secretary emphasised the need for countries to work on “safe passage and exit arrangements” for Afghans seeking to leave the country.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “This afternoon, [Mr] Raab joined a meeting with counterparts from the US, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, NATO, Qatar and Turkey about the situation in Afghanistan. The foreign secretary emphasised the importance of working with like-minded partners on safe passage and exit arrangements for eligible Afghans remaining in the country.”

He continued: “[Mr Raab] affirmed Taliban assurances that foreign nationals and Afghan citizens with travel authorisation will be allowed to depart the country, but underlined we must judge them on their actions, and whether people are allowed safe passage to leave. The foreign secretary also welcomed the participants’ unity of purpose and close collaboration on a wider new strategy for Afghanistan.

“He explained the strategic priorities to prevent Afghanistan becoming a haven for terrorism, ensure humanitarian access, protect human rights and the gains of the last 20 years, preserve regional stability, and working with a range of international partners in order to exercise the maximum moderating influence on the Taliban.”

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10 family members killed in airstrike near Kabul airport

Monday 30 August 2021 17:44 , Sam Hancock

A US drone strike in Kabul, which the Pentagon said destroyed a vehicle carrying suicide bombers, killed 10 members of a single family, including six children, a relative has said.

American officials declared the airstrike on Sunday afternoon had eliminated “an imminent Isis-K threat to Hamad Karzai International Airport”, where a fraught international effort to rescue thousands of Nato troops and vulnerable allies from Afghanistan’s new Taliban regime was drawing to a close, writes Andy Gregory.

A senior US official said a Hellfire missile had been fired at a vehicle in a compound between two buildings, after individuals were seen loading explosives into the trunk. But as footage showed black smoke rising from a residential building northwest of the airport, reports began to emerge of at least three civilian deaths, citing an Afghan police chief.

10 members of same family killed in US airstrike near Kabul airport, relative says

Scottish Afghan charity workers waiting to be evacuated

Monday 30 August 2021 18:23 , Sam Hancock

A Scottish Afghan charity has said its staff trapped in Kabul have been forced to return to their homes after a “relentless 46 hours” facing gunfire at the city’s airport.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation was set up in memory of a Scots aid worker who was killed after being kidnapped by the Taliban.

Ms Norgrove’s parents, John and Lorna, established the charity as a way of continuing their daughter’s work after she died in an attempted rescue by US forces in 2010.

The foundation previously said it has two staff, sisters aged 25 and 29, who were “holed up in their flat in Kabul” after the Taliban seized control of the city.

“Thanks to all of you who supported our campaign to evacuate our staff, and to all who worked behind the scenes,” it said in a statement on Twitter. “Although not successful at this time, we are continuing to support our staff in Kabul and are still working towards their eventual evacuation.”

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Afghan refugees hospitalised in Poland

Monday 30 August 2021 18:47 , Sam Hancock

Three Afghan children staying at a refugee centre in Poland have fallen ill after eating poisonous mushrooms picked in a forest, with two of them in intensive care fighting for their lives, according to officials.The children and their families had recently arrived in Poland after fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. They were staying in a centre for foreigners in Podkowa Lesna, a town near Warsaw, AP reports. Artur Tusinski, the mayor of Podkowa Lesna, said three children suffered from the poisoning. He denied media reports that the refuges picked and ate the mushrooms because they were given too little food at the centre, saying they were provided with three meals a day.A doctor at a hospital said two boys, aged 5 and 6, faced life-threatening situations while a 17-year-old girl was stable.A spokesman for the Office for Foreigners said “in connection with this unfortunate accident, workers at the centres will sensitise Afghan citizens not to eat products of unknown origin”.

Afghan refugees hospitalised in Poland

Monday 30 August 2021 18:50 , Sam Hancock

Three Afghan children staying at a refugee centre in Poland have fallen ill after eating poisonous mushrooms picked in a forest, with two of them in intensive care fighting for their lives, according to officials.

The children and their families had recently arrived in Poland after fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. They were staying in a centre for foreigners in Podkowa Lesna, a town near Warsaw, AP reports.

Artur Tusinski, the mayor of Podkowa Lesna, said three children suffered from the poisoning. He denied media reports that the refuges picked and ate the mushrooms because they were given too little food at the centre, saying they were provided with three meals a day.

A doctor at a hospital said two boys, aged 5 and 6, faced life-threatening situations while a 17-year-old girl was stable.

A spokesman for the Office for Foreigners said “in connection with this unfortunate accident, workers at the centres will sensitise Afghan citizens not to eat products of unknown origin”.

Pentagon investigating civilian deaths in Kabul drone strike

Monday 30 August 2021 19:06 , Sam Hancock

Pentagon officials offered few details about a US drone strike in Kabul carried out over the weekend, while not disputing reports that the US retaliatory attack killed nearly a dozen civilians including children.

Monday’s presser came just about 24 hours after a US unmanned aerial aircraft struck a vehicle believed by the US military to have been made into a bomb by Isis-k militants who the US said were bound for Kabul’s airport, reports John Bowden.

“We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time,” said US Army Captain Bill Urban in his initial statement.

Pentagon investigating possible civilian deaths in Kabul drone strike

Donations pour in for widow of US Marine killed in Kabul

Monday 30 August 2021 19:27 , Sam Hancock

The widow and unborn child of a US Marine from Wyoming killed in a bombing in Afghanistan have been showered with donations.

Rylee McCollum, 20, was one of the 13 service members killed by a suicide bomb attack on Thursday outside Kabul airport. They were providing security as the airport was overwhelmed with people trying to leave the country amid the US withdrawal and Taliban takeover.

McCollum was from Bondurant and expecting his first child in three weeks, according to his family.Almost $487,000 (£353,880) had been raised through two online fundraising campaigns, one for the child’s future education costs and one for McCollum’s widow, as of Sunday.

He was on his first deployment and manning a checkpoint at the airport when the attack happened, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

McCollum attended Jackson Hole High School and competed as a wrestler. He graduated in 2019 from Summit Innovations School in Jackson.

Watch: US airstrike destroys Afghanistan home

Monday 30 August 2021 19:47 , Sam Hancock

Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war launched in the aftermath of September 11 attacks

Monday 30 August 2021 22:47 , Josh Marcus

The last US forces have departed from Kabul airport, shortly before a midnight deadline for a full withdrawal, bringing an end to a 20-year conflict launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

America’s longest war cost the lives of nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians, 2,500 US service members, 66,000 Afghan national military and police, 457 British armed forces personnel, and 50,000 Taliban and opposition fighters.

It was a war overseen by four US presidents, fought by two generations of Americans, and at a cost of an estimated $2 trillion. It ended with the defeat of a superpower by an army of guerilla fighters, and the collapse of a decades-long state-building project in a matter of days.

The Independent’s Richard Hall has the full story here.

Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war

Celebratory gunfire from Taliban echoes across Kabul as US finishes exit

Monday 30 August 2021 22:49 , Josh Marcus

Bullets reportedly rang out in celebration from Taliban fighters across Kabul, as militants celebrated the formal end to the US military presence in the country.

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Taliban enter abandoned US hangar containing Chinook helicopters

Monday 30 August 2021 23:00 , Josh Marcus

New video captures heavily armed Taliban fighters entering a hangar at the Kabul airport formerly held by the US, where at least four, heavy-duty Chinook helicopters remained.

Gun fire can be heard in the background.

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“Now, they’ve taken over,” said Los Angeles Times correspondent Nabih Bulos, who captured the clip.

FULL STATEMENT: Joe Biden says ‘mission of mercy’ over in Afghanistan

Monday 30 August 2021 23:05 , Josh Marcus

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

That’s the beginning of a lengthy statement the White House just released, explaining President Biden’s rationale for pulling the remainder of US troops out of Afghanistan.

“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,” the president wrote. “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.”

Mr Biden said he would address the nation tomorrow afternoon.

READ his full statement here.

Biden says Afghan withdrawal was best way to avoid loss of more lives

Monday 30 August 2021 23:07 , Josh Marcus

Joe Biden has insisted that the Afghan withdrawal was the best way to avoid the loss of more American lives, in a statement following the last US flight out of Kabul.

The Independent’s Graeme Massie is tracking the latest White House comments on their chaotic exit from Afghanistan.

Biden says Afghan withdrawal was best way to avoid loss of more lives

US military admits several hundred Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan are stranded after country’s exit

Monday 30 August 2021 23:25 , Josh Marcus

The Pentagon has admitted that as many as 250 Americans who wanted to leave Kabul are stranded there, as the US flew its final evacuation from Afghanistan and ended a 20-year presence.

As a top US general - and pointedly not President Joe Biden - announced the final US evacuation flight had left the South Asian country, he also said that not every American who had expressed a wish to leave had made it out before the August 31 deadline.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” said General Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command.

The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe has that one.

Pentagon admits 250 Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan are stranded

‘Please, please help’: How I witnessed the Afghanistan war’s bitter end

Monday 30 August 2021 23:43 , Josh Marcus

The last exit of western forces from Afghanistan has taken place amid carnage on the ground, bitter accusations and recriminations in Washington and London, and despondency and fear among people left behind in a shattered land.

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will be marked by the humiliating defeat for the US, the UK and their allies, and gathering darkness for Afghans who see the painstaking gains of the last two decades being snatched away as they enter a forbidding future.

After decades of reporting from Afghanistan, The Independent’s Kim Sengupta reflects on at the west’s string of failures and the dark, uncertain future facing those left behind.

Read the full story here.

‘Please, please help’: How I witnessed the Afghanistan war’s bitter end

‘We will never forget their sacrifice’: Secretary of State speaks on future of US in Afghanistan

Tuesday 31 August 2021 00:09 , Josh Marcus

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken addressed the nation on Monday evening about America’s future in Afghanistan.“This evacuation operation was very personal,” he said. “Many worked hand in hand for many year with Afghan partners, many of whom became cherished friends.”

The chief American diplomat lauded US armed forces for airlifting more than 122,000 people of the country, and remembered the US service members who were killed in bomb blasts at the Kabul airport last week, many of whom were “just babies or toddlers on September 11, 2001.”

He added that while the armed forces may be leaving the country, but US diplomacy would remain invested in Afghanistan, albeit from a remote post in Doha, Qatar for now due to safety concerns.

“The military mission is over,” Mr Blinken continued. “A new diplomatic mission has begun.”

Under 200 Americans who wish to leave remain the country in Afghanistan, the secretary announced.

Blinken leaves door open to US regarding Taliban as rightful Afghan government in speech

Tuesday 31 August 2021 00:20 , Josh Marcus

Ever since the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, questions have lingered about whether the US will consider the group, sanctioned as a terrorist organisation under US law, the legitimate rulers of the country.

In a Monday evening speech to the country, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken seemed to leave the door open to the possibility, saying the new regime could earn US trust by meeting certain benchmarks.

“We will not do it on the basis of trust of faith,” the top diplomat said during his remarks. “Our message is, any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned. The Taliban can do that by meeting commitments including freedom of travel, respect for the basic rights of the Afghan people including women and minorities.”

Rep Peter Meijer wants America to stop believing its own foreign policy propaganda

Tuesday 31 August 2021 00:45 , Josh Marcus

Republican Rep Peter Meijer of Michigan is worried that the United States could repeat its mistakes in Afghanistan – if it continues believing its own foreign policy propaganda.

“I think one of the reasons why the past couple of weeks of Afghanistan have been such a shock to some and such a disappointing confirmation to others is because of that disconnect between reality and how that reality is projected,” Mr Meijer told The Independent in an interview on Monday morning.

Mr Meijer, a freshman member of Congress and a veteran of the War in Iraq, spoke on the heels of his visit to Afghanistan with fellow veteran and Democratic Rep Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Mr Meijer added that it was essential to close the gap between the reality on the ground in Afghanistan and what has been projected.

Catch the full conversation with The Independent’s Eric Garcia here.

Rep Peter Meijer wants America to stop believing its own propaganda on Afghanistan

WATCH: Sec. of State says more than 100 Americans stranded in Kabul who want to leave

01:00 , Josh Marcus

US forces may have official left Afghanistan on Monday, but all Americans haven’t. During a speech at the White House, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that more than 100 Americans who want to leave the country remain inside.

“Part of the challenge of fixing a precise number is that there are long-time residents of Afghanistan who have American passports, and who are trying to determine whether or not they want to leave,” Secretary Blinken said.

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ICYMI: Lindsay Graham says Joe Biden should be impeached over Afghanistan

01:20 , Josh Marcus

The US war effort in Afghanistan hasn’t even been over for a full day, and political backlash is already reaching a fever pitch against Joe Biden for his handling of the conflict.

Lindsay Graham has repeated a call for president Joe Biden to be impeached over his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Senator from South Carolina said the president “ignored sound advice” and has “been this way for 40 years.”

He’s the latest conservative to lash out at Mr Biden’s handling of the conflict, which passed through four presidents of different two parties before reaching its end.

The Independent’s Clara Hill has more here.

Lindsay Graham repeats call for Joe Biden to be impeached over Afghanistan withdrawl

Data Point: Afghanistan was most violent conflict in world in 2020, map suggests

01:50 , Josh Marcus

The violence in the final moments of the US’s Afghanistan exit—the bombings at the Kabul airport, the US airstrikes on suspected militants—may have shocked the world, but data suggests the country has been a lethal place for much longer.

Afghanistan was the deadliest conflict zone in the world last year, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, and this year is shaping up to be even worse, according to their analysis.

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US allies prepared to strike against IS despite western withdrawal, officer says

02:10 , Josh Marcus

US allies, including the UK’s Royal Air Force, are prepared to launch air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan – if the situation presents itself, according to a senior officer.

It comes after the terror network’s Afghan offshoot, Isis-K, claimed responsibility for the attack on Kabul airport, which was carried out on Thursday and killed two Britons, the child of a British national, as well as 13 US service personnel and hundreds of Afghan civilians.

While the international community appears to have accepted the reality of Taliban rule, the UK and US remain willing to take on Islamic State, also known as Daesh.

The Independent’s Sam Hancock has the details here.

RAF prepared to strike against IS in Afghanistan, officer says

Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war launched in aftermath of September 11 attacks

02:40 , Josh Marcus

The last US forces departed from Kabul airport on Monday evening, shortly before a midnight deadline for a full withdrawal, bringing an end to a 20-year conflict launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

America’s longest war cost the lives of nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians, 2,500 US service members, 66,000 Afghan national military and police, 457 British armed forces personnel, and 50,000 Taliban and opposition fighters.

It was a war overseen by four US presidents, fought by two generations of Americans, and at a cost of an estimated $2 trillion. It ended with the defeat of a superpower by an army of guerrilla fighters, and the collapse of a decades-long state-building project in a matter of days.

The Independent’s Richard Hall breaks it down here.

Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war

Afghanistan exit shows Biden ‘not fit’ for White House, Donald Trump Jr says

03:10 , Josh Marcus

Conservatives continue bashing Joe Biden for his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the latest being Donald Trump Jr.

“Absolutely terrible!” the former president’s son tweeted on Monday. “He is not fit for this job.”

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Unmentioned, of course, was how Donald Trump’s administration negotiated that US exit in the first place, without the approval of the Afghan government.

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