The Taliban Celebrate Afghanistan's "Complete Independence" With Gunfire (VIDEO)

The Taliban declared Tuesday from Kabul airport the "complete independence" of Afghanistan with gunfire in the air, where they also promised to form an "inclusive" Islamic government, just hours after the total withdrawal of the United States.

Taliban special forces, from the so-called 313 Badri unit, entered Kabul airport an hour after the last US aircraft left the airfield's military zone, taking full control for the first time of the last US base after twenty years of conflict.

"At midnight in Afghanistan, the last group of U.S. soldiers left Kabul airport. This completed the withdrawal of U.S. forces and our country and the Afghans achieved full independence," said one of the Taliban's top spokesmen, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi.

After 20 years of war, Afghanistan has finally "gained its independence from foreign forces," the Taliban's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told a press conference at Kabul airport.

The spokesman's statement came just hours after the last group of U.S. soldiers in the country took off from the same air base after almost 20 years of conflict.

Mujahid addressed his fighters, whom he congratulated for their sacrifices that have meant one victory after another during the last month, with the capture first in just over two weeks of almost all Afghan territory, culminating on August 15 with the bloodless conquest of Kabul, and now with the total U.S. withdrawal.

"It is because of your sacrifices (...) that today we have achieved independence. I want to congratulate you all and our nation on this independence. We hope that Afghanistan will never be occupied again and will remain independent, prosperous and the home of Afghans under an Islamic system," he said.

"The invaders should know that Afghanistan is no place for them, they made a mistake coming here, we are happy that they are no more," Mujahid added.

Taliban leaders now hope to announce their new "inclusive" Islamic government soon, after two weeks of deliberations following the seizure of Kabul.

The Taliban now have the right to "take over the leadership of the country and secure its future" after nearly 20 years of jihad, he said.

"We promise to build a system that will represent Afghan and Islamic values," he assured.

The spokesman also called on members of his forces to be "polite and have a good behavior" with citizens, as after 20 years of war "the nation has the right to a peaceful life, to breathe calmly."

"We must be the nation's servants, not its dynasty," he remarked.

The next Taliban government will have an uncertain future in its relations with the international community, which has not fixed a clear position on the recognition of its regime, waiting to verify the respect for the human rights of the Islamists.

After the withdrawal of the last US soldier, Mujahid nevertheless insisted that the Taliban want "good relations with the United States" in the future.

20 years of conflict

The United States put an end Monday to the longest war in its history with the withdrawal of its last soldiers from Afghanistan, almost 20 years after its deployment in the Central Asian country.

Making the historic announcement was Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees troop operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

"I am here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans," the general said at a Pentagon press briefing, speaking telematically.

The last U.S. military aircraft, a C-17, took off from Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 p.m. Eastern Time (19:29 GMT) Monday. Among its passengers was acting U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson.

The diplomatic mission continues

McKenzie explained that although the military withdrawal has been completed, the diplomatic mission is still continuing to ensure that more U.S. citizens and "eligible Afghans" who want to leave are able to do so.

Since the rise of the Taliban to power and their seizure of Kabul on August 15, the U.S. has been forced to accelerate the evacuation of Americans and Afghan collaborators and has had to bring forward the end of its mission.

President Joe Biden will give a speech on Tuesday to justify his decision not to extend the presence of troops in Afghanistan beyond August 31.

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