Coffins draped in the flags of the US and NATO allies were a part of a mock funeral carried out by Taliban supporters in the eastern city of Khost in Afghanistan to celebrate the end of western presence in the region.
Videos being shared widely on social media on Tuesday showed supporters also used British and French flags to drape the coffins, while some showed off their guns at the mock funeral.
“August 31 is our formal Freedom Day. On this day, American occupying forces and NATO forces fled the country,” Taliban official Qari Saeed Khosti said in an interview with local television station Zhman TV.
News agency Reuters, however, said it could not verify the videos from Khost and others from Kabul, which showed scenes of celebratory gunfire.
The US stuck to its 31 August deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan and President Joe Biden said in a statement that “the war in Afghanistan is now over.”
“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Mr Biden said on Tuesday, standing by his decision to carry out the withdrawal that has been roundly criticised for escalating an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Taliban supporters hold mock U.S. funeral as troops leave Afghanistan https://t.co/4NeNNbHq6P
— John Geddie (@geddiejdk) August 31, 2021
Over 123,000 people, including American citizens and Afghan allies, have been evacuated by the US since the Taliban took over control of the country. Several Afghan allies, however, are yet to be rescued even as they run out of options for accessing a safe haven from the Taliban, whose reprisal they fear.
Pictures and videos of the Taliban entering the airport in US-supplied military fatigues, some with rifles and some trying out the night vision goggles and analysing military helicopters went viral on social media after the last US troops flew out of Afghanistan.
US military officials, on the other hand, said they were not concerned by the images. The departing troops destroyed more than 70 aircraft and dozens of armoured vehicles, Reuters reported. Air defences that thwarted an Isis rocket attack on the eve of their departure were also disabled.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said in a live stream that “the world should have learned its lesson and this is the enjoyable moment of victory.” Americans “could not achieve their goal through military operations,” he said, adding he did “not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation.”
Mr Biden on Tuesday also signed into law a bill that would provide up to $10 million in assistance for US citizens who have been evacuated from Afghanistan for the next two years.