US President Joe Biden on Monday delivered remarks on the situation in Afghanistan, a day after the Taliban seized control of the county and its capital of Kabul.
"We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: Get those who attacked us on September 11 and ensure Al-Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that," he said.
“I stand squarely behind my decision” to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Biden clarified. He added that the US will “act quickly” against terrorism in Afghanistan “if needed”.
Biden added that his choice was either abiding by the May 1 agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan, or "escalating the conflict" by sending thousands more troops into the country.
"The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden acknowledged. “So what's happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country."
He also asserted that the US gave the Afghan military “every chance” against Taliban.
“We gave the Afghans everything - but we couldn't give them the will to fight,” stated Biden.
“We will continue to support the Afghan people. We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability. We’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls, just as we speak out all over the world.”
Biden said that the 6,000 troops deployed to assist in the evacuation from Afghanistan will in the coming days transport out thousands of Americans and more Afghans cleared for special immigration visas, as well as others including those working for US news agencies.
He vowed that the US response "will be swift and forceful" if the Taliban interferes with the evacuation.
"We will end America's longest war after 20 long years of bloodshed," declared the President, who noted that Afghanistan is known as "the graveyard of empires."
He acknowledged that the US made many missteps in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
"I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth president," he declared, adding, "The buck stops with me.”
"This is not in our national security interest. This is not what the American people want," said Biden of continued US military involvement in Afghanistan.
He said that the US military action should have ended long ago and added, "I know my decision will be criticized.”
After the conclusion of his remarks, Biden left the room without answering questions from reporters.
Earlier on Monday, chaos broke out at Hamid Karzai International Airport as thousands of Afghanis attempted to leave the country on US military aircraft which were evacuating American diplomatic and military personnel.
Video from the airport shows thousands of desperate Afghani citizens chasing after and grabbing onto the aircraft as it moved down the runway and took off.
At least two young men who attempted to hitch a ride on the outside of the plane fell hundreds off feet onto the tarmac seconds after takeoff.
A total of seven people are believed to have been killed in the chaos at the airport.