Biden fends off criticism over Afghanistan exit

Biden: “It was time to end this war.”

President Joe Biden on Tuesday defiantly rejected criticism of his decision to stick to a deadline to pull out of Afghanistan this week, a move that left up to 200 Americans in the country along with thousands of U.S.-aligned Afghan citizens.

Biden called the tumultuous U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan a ‘success’.. saying it was the best available option.

“I take responsibility for the decision. Now, some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner, and couldn't this have been done in a more orderly manner? I respectfully disagree…The bottom line is there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced, none.”

More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in a massive but chaotic airlift by the United States and its allies over the past two weeks.

It also saw the death of 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghan civilians in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport in an attack claimed by ISIS-K.

In his first remarks since the final pullout after the last American soldier left Kabul soil, Biden said 90% of Americans who wanted to leave were able to do so.

But U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Americans had been abandoned behind enemy lines, calling it a “disgraceful and disastrous departure.”

Biden said the only other option would have been to step up the fight.

"That was the choice - the real choice - between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit.”

Earlier in the day, the Taliban celebrated their victory over the United States, firing guns into the air Taliban official spoke from the tarmac at Kabul airport - saying they are prepared to engage diplomatically and have “good” relations with the world, including the United States.

Other Taliban fighters took inventory of destroyed U.S. helicopters… their windows and control panels smashed in.

The Taliban now control more territory than when they last ruled before they were ousted in America's longest war.

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