The last moments of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan were captured in two images that were a reversal of the American invasion nearly 20 years ago: A U.S. soldier leaving as Taliban fighters took control.
U.S. Central Command identified the final soldier to leave as Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne. He was boarding the last flight out of Kabul’s airport. Shortly after, the Los Angeles Times posted a video of its Middle East bureau chief, Nabih Bulos, entering the airport with Taliban fighters.
The image of Maj. Donahue, a firearm in his right hand, boarding a C-17 plane Monday night, is shrouded in the green tint suggestive of night vision goggles.
Nearby, and shortly after, a handful of Taliban fighters were recorded casually walking into an airport hangar. The moment was captured in a 30-second video, viewed nearly two million times on Twitter, by Mr. Bulos.
The overhang is brightly light. Fighters walk by an empty swivel chair and toward one side of the hangar, where several helicopters sit unoccupied.
The fighters, according to Mr. Bulos, were entering “what was only minutes ago” an American patrolled portion of the airport. In another video posted by Mr. Bulos, Taliban soldiers shoot celebratory gunfire into the air.
The two images capture the unlikely transfer of power between the United States, which invaded the country in 2001, and the Taliban, which has waged a bloody campaign to return to power ever since.