United States President Joe Biden broke days of silence on the chaotic military pullout from Afghanistan, doubling down on his decision as he fired scorching criticism at the country’s former Western-backed leadership for failing to resist the Taliban.
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he said in a televised address from the White House on Monday.
The Taliban has declared the war in Afghanistan over, after its fighters swept into the capital, Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Victorious Taliban fighters patrolled the streets of Kabul on Monday as thousands of Afghans mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of rule. Scores of Afghans ran alongside a US military plane as it taxied on the runway and several clung to the side as the jet took off.
Senior US military officials said that the chaos left seven dead, including several who fell from the flight.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Kabul, said the Taliban has set up a cordon to stop people getting into the terminal of Kabul airport and have been firing warning shots to keep people away from the area.
Later on Monday, US Major General Hank Taylor told reporters at the Pentagon that Kabul Airport is open again after flights were suspended earlier.