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Biden defends 'extraordinary success' of Afghanistan evacuation amid criticism

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By Euronews with AFP, AP
President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Washington.   -   Copyright  Evan Vucci/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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President Joe Biden called the US evacuation operation of more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan an "extraordinary success" on Tuesday, just a day after the last US troops pulled out of the country.

"We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history," Biden said.

"No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history; only the United States had the capacity and the will and ability to do it," he said.

He said around 200 US citizens were still in Kabul and committed to evacuating those willing to leave.

"For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out," the US president said.

Defending the US withdrawal, Biden said his choice in Afghanistan was "leaving or escalating."

"I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," he insisted.

He warned ISIS-K militants, who claimed responsibility for a deadly attack at Kabul airport last week: "We are not done with you."

Biden's comments came amid heavy criticism on the US hectic pullout from Afghanistan and his handling of evacuations.

The last Air Force transport plane departed Kabul one minute before midnight Monday, raising questions about why Biden didn't continue the airlift for at least another day. He had set Tuesday as a deadline for ending the evacuation and pulling out remaining troops after the Taliban took over the country.