KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban triumphantly marched into Kabul’s international airport on Tuesday, hours after the final U.S. troop withdrawal that ended America’s longest war. Standing on the tarmac, Taliban leaders pledged to secure the country, quickly reopen the airport and grant amnesty to former opponents.
In a show of control, turbaned Taliban leaders were flanked by the insurgents’ elite Badri unit as they walked across the tarmac. The commandos in camouflage uniforms proudly posed for photos.
Getting the airport running again is just one of the sizeable challenges the Taliban face in governing a nation of 38 million people that for two decades had survived on billions of dollars in foreign aid.
“Afghanistan is finally free,” Hekmatullah Wasiq, a top Taliban official, told The Associated Press on the tarmac. “The military and civilian side (of the airport) are with us and in control. Hopefully, we will be announcing our Cabinet. Everything is peaceful. Everything is safe.”