US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports on the last withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden has defended what he called the “extraordinary success” of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan amid mounting criticism.
Speaking for the first time since officially ending America's presence in Afghanistan, he said he would not preside over a "forever war" or a "forever exit.”
The last troops were flown out from Kabul on Monday night, giving way to scenes of celebration among Taliban soldiers and supporters.
The future for the country's citizens, however, is uncertain - with many fearing a return to the group's oppressive past rule and reports already surfacing of their brutality across the country.
“We have been a nation too long at war," said President Biden, adding the war cost $300 million per day over two decades.
“This is the right decision, the wise decision, the best decision for America.”
US Correspondent Emma Murphy on why President Biden has no regrets in his decision
He once again pointed the finger at the former Afghan government for failing to prevent or even slow down a remarkable collapse that saw the Taliban make rapid gains earlier in August.
“After two decades of fighting and losing thousands of their own they did not hold on as long as we expected,” he said.
As the Taliban took control of the capital city, the United States successfully airlifted more than 120,000 people from Kabul airport.
But President Biden has been widely criticised for what has been seen as a chaotic withdrawal - with thousands who had worked with the US and its allies, as well as up to 200 Americans, remaining in the country.
He added that 90% of Americans in the country who wanted to get out did and that "there is no deadline for them, if they want to get out we will get them out.”
Watch Joe Biden's statement in full:
It was inevitable that the final departure from two decades of war would be difficult, he said, and with likely violence, no matter when it was planned and conducted.
“To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask, ‘What is the vital national interest?’” He said.
“I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan.”
While troops have been withdrawn, he said the US will continue to support the Afghan people "through diplomacy, international influence, and humanitarian aid."
The 20-year war cost $2 trillion and hundreds of US soldiers' lives, 13 of whom were killed in a suicide attack at Kabul Airport, which has been the scene of chaos as American planes tried to evacuate its staff and Afghans.
Among the 13 was 23-year-old Marine Nicole Gee, who had just celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary with her husband earlier this month.
Speaking to CNN, her sister Misty Fuoco described her "best friend" and hero" who was "the friend who people go to when they need help."
"She has always been very motivated and passionate about everything she does. We have an ongoing joke in the family that she has always been the golden child," she said.
"There's still disbelief and not wanting to believe it's happening."
Listen CNN reporter Velena Jones conversation with Nicole Gee's sister
President Biden said those responsible will not escape justice.
"Isis-K, we are not done with you yet,” he said.
"The United States will not forgive or forget - we will hunt you down to the ends of the earth.”