No hope left: Satellite images show deserted streets where desperate Afghans had crowded to escape and abandoned aircraft at Kabul airport after last US flights leave
- Last US evacuation flight departed Kabul airport Monday night, taking last hopes of Afghan refugees with it
- The Taliban quickly seized the airstrip, which was almost totally deserted today except for jihadist fighters
- Satellite images reveal how huge crowds begging for a seat on western flights have now totally disappeared
- Terminal spots that were once occupied by military transport planes now lie empty, with only a few aircraft – most of which have been disabled or stripped of weapons – left behind
Kabul airport was near-deserted today as huge crowds of Afghans desperate to leave the country dispersed after the last US evacuation flight took off – taking their final hopes of rescue with it.
Taliban fighters and a handful of journalists were virtually the only people at the airstrip, which for weeks had been the scene of frenetic activity as the West’s 20-year presence in the country drew chaotically to an end.
Satellite images – which a week ago had captured tens of thousands of Afghans thronging airport gates and thousands of lucky evacuees boarding planes – today showed empty runways and streets.
The only things visible in the satellite images were a handful of aircraft that were left behind by the retreating Americans, which had mostly been disabled or stripped of weapons.
It is thought that hundreds of British and American citizens were left behind during the air-lift, along with thousands of Afghans who were promised sanctuary in return for helping western forces and are now fearing for their lives under Taliban rule.
TODAY: Kabul airport was almost deserted today as crowds of thousands of Afghans who were desperate to flee to the west abandoned their hopes and went home after the last US plane took off
LAST WEEK: This satellite, taken on August 23, shows large crowds of people at the airport’s main southern gate (bottom), the military north gate (top right) and Abbey Gate, the scene of the ISIS-K terror attack (bottom right) as people board planes
The final US flight out of Kabul took off late Monday, bringing an end to America’s longest war ahead of an August 31 deadline that Joe Biden had agreed with the Taliban.
Jihadist ‘special forces’ – known as Badri 313 units – quickly moved in to capture the airstrip as fireworks exploded in the skies of Kabul and celebratory gunfire rattled into the night.
What they found was a treasure trove of western military kit, to add to the considerable haul they had already seized from government forces and used to arm their Badri units, who were decked head to toe in US gear.
Among the haul were A-29 light attack aircraft, not all of which looked to have been disabled, MD 530 helicopters, MRAP armoured vehicles and Humvees, and a C-130 Hercules transport plane.
Troves of American-made ammunition, grenades, body armour, helmets and other tactical gear were also strewn through hangars at the airport which have now fallen into Taliban hands.
Posing in front of the captured C-130 plane this morning, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid hailed a ‘victory’ over western forces while calling it a ‘big lesson for other invaders and for our future generation.’
TODAY: The only things left at the airport today were a collection of small military aircraft which had largely been disabled or stripped of weapons before being seized by the Taliban
TODAY: A C-130 military transport plane which was left behind by retreating American forces is seen bottom centre. It formed the backdrop for a Taliban press conference today which took place after US troops had gone
‘It is an historical day and an historical moment. We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power,’ he added.
Meanwhile at Bagram air base, the former stronghold of western forces in Afghanistan, its new 35-year-old Taliban commander was boasting of having ‘beaten’ America using little more than Kalashnikov rifles while saying the airfield will now be ‘a base for jihad for all Muslims’.
Speaking to The Times, Maulawi Hafiz Mohibullah Muktaz said: ‘Never in our wildest dreams could we have believed we could beat a superpower like America with just our Kalashnikovs.
‘When you do jihad all doors open, we defeated America with our faith and our guns and we hope now that Bagram can be a base for jihad for all Muslims
‘For any foreign power considering attacking Afghanistan then look at Bagram now and learn your lesson well before embarking on foolish endeavour. See the West’s mighty technology humbled here by mujahidin.
‘In 15 years as a mujahid fighting the Americans I wondered often if I may fail or die. Yet here is proof of the power of faith and God and jihad. On the back of victory I hope we can use Bagram as a place to spread jihad further into the region and Muslim world.’
LAST WEEK: Thousands of evacuees form up on the tarmac at Hamiz Karzai Airport as they board military transport planes out of Afghanistan, before the flights were stopped
LAST WEEK: A large crowd of people and cars is pictured at the military north gate leading into the airport, where people crammed against on-another for more than a week trying to get inside
LAST WEEK: Satellite images show people waiting at checkpoints and crammed into a ditch at Abbey Gate, on the south side of the airport, which was hit by an ISIS-K suicide bomber just hours later
LAST WEEK: A large number of cars are seen parked outside the civilian south entrance to the airport, before the evacuation flights were stopped and the Taliban took over