As it happened: Decision to leave Afghanistan is 'the right one for America', Biden says

Afghan passengers sit as they wait to leave Kabul's airport on August 16, 2021.
Afghan passengers sit as they wait to leave Kabul's airport on August 16, 2021. © Wakil Kohsar, AFP

US troops fired shots into the air and all commercial flights were cancelled at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport as thousands of Afghans crowded onto the tarmac in the hope of catching any flight out after the Taliban takeover on the weekend. Meanwhile, France on Monday began evacuations from Kabul to a military base in the United Arab Emirates. View our live coverage of events as they unfolded on our live blog below.


• French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address told his compatriots that Afghanistan must not become the "sanctuary for terrorism" that it was before the US-led invasion 20 years ago.

• US President Joe Biden addressed Americans on the situation in Afghanistan and his decision to withdraw the United States after two decades in the country. “I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said. “After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.” Biden said the unexpectedly rapid end of the Afghan government only vindicates his choice to end the war. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting the war, and dying in a war, that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said.

• Shortly after fleeing the country as the militants entered Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared the Taliban had "won" – nearly two decades after they were ousted from power by a US-led invasion. Dozens of Taliban fighters declared victory over the Afghan government from inside the presidential palace in images broadcast on television.

• The Taliban's imminent takeover triggered fear and panic in Kabul among residents fearful of the group's hardline brand of Islam. Many streets in Kabul were jammed with cars and people trying to get to the airport, residents said. Police were taking off their uniforms and putting on the traditional South Asian shalwar kameez.

• Amid scenes of panic, Afghans and foreigners alike raced for the exit, signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan. The US temporarily suspended evacuation flights amid the chaos unfolding at Kabul's airport as hundreds of people on the tarmac tried to catch flights out of the country.

• The State Department said late Sunday that the American flag is no longer flying at the US embassy in Kabul and that all personnel have been safely evacuated. Spokesman Ned Price added in a statement that the airport’s “perimeter is secured by the US military”. France announced the deployment of military reinforcements to facilitate the evacuation of its nationals, whose security is an "absolute priority".

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