President Biden on Wednesday night released a statement marking the second anniversary of his heavily criticized Afghanistan withdrawal.
Biden’s statement touted the operation as one of the “largest airlifts in history,” but he made no specific reference to the 13 U.S. service members who died defending the Kabul airport during the operation. He did mention them during a separate event on Saturday, however.
“Today, we pause to remember the selfless service of generations of brave women and men over the course of the conflict — who, time and time again, sacrificed their own safety and security for that of their fellow Americans. That includes the 2,461 U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, and 20,744 of their brother-and-sisters-in-arms who were wounded in action,” Biden wrote.
“I remain forever grateful to the military members, diplomats, intelligence professionals, and development specialists who not only worked together to advance the United States’ Afghan mission for two decades — but who also conducted our withdrawal with the same resolve and bravery that defined U.S. service in Afghanistan. Together, they helped evacuate approximately 120,000 people in one of the largest airlifts in history. And every day since, they have skillfully used every military, diplomatic, and intelligence resource available to continue to protect our homeland from terrorist threats in Afghanistan and around the world,” he continued.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan remains one of the lowest points of Biden’s presidency, as hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies were left in the country under the rule of the Taliban. which swiftly retook control of Afghanistan as American forces prepared their exit.
Biden’s statement went on to urge Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would establish a smoother path to permanent residence in the U.S. for Afghan allies.
Americans witnessed haunting scenes in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from the Kabul airport, the last airstrip available to American forces.
At least one desperate mother attempted to hand off her child to the U.S. soldiers guarding the complex, while others tried to cling to U.S. aircraft as they lifted off, only to plummet to their deaths.
Biden’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan faced widespread global backlash after Taliban insurgents retook the country in a matter of days on Aug. 15, 2021, essentially winning the war 20 years after their ouster by U.S.-led forces. Just a month earlier, Biden told Americans that the likelihood of a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely.”
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.