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These Photos Show Life In Afghanistan As The Last US Soldiers Leave

Afghans are mourning and preparing to move on as they near the end of an era.

Posted on August 30, 2021, at 1:54 p.m. ET

After two decades of war, Monday was one of the last days for US military forces to leave Afghanistan before President Joe Biden's deadline to withdraw on Aug. 31. It came after a week of panicked flights out of Kabul, a suicide bombing at the airport, and a US airstrike. Scenes on the ground over the past 48 hours show members of the Taliban guarding the airport, people mourning, a resistance militia preparing for what's ahead, US troops departing, displaced Afghans setting up camps in Kabul, and some still looking to flee over the border to Pakistan. These photos capture life as the country closes one chapter and braces itself for the unknown future.

Afghan residents stand in silence as a plane flies overhead
Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A military transport plane flies above relatives and neighbors of the Ahmadi family gathering around the incinerated husk of a vehicle targeted and hit by an American drone strike, Aug. 30.

Taliban resistance soldiers hold guns and participate in a training
Ahmad Sahel Arman / AFP via Getty Images

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban forces take part in military training exercises in Panjshir province on Aug. 30.

Taliban resistance soldiers hold a log and guns and participate in a training
Ahmad Sahel Arman / AFP via Getty Images

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban forces take part in military training exercises in Panjshir province on Aug. 30.

Afghan residents walk to a border station to leave for Pakistan
AFP via Getty Images

Afghan nationals walk along a fenced corridor as they enter Pakistan through the Pakistan–Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on Aug. 30.

A soldier is surrounded by belongings and debris as he stands guard outside an airport
Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Taliban fighter is seen guarding the outer perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 29.

People come to observe the scene where an airstrike was carried out
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

People gather at the site where a rocket struck in Kabul on Aug. 29.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Afghans gather around the remains of a vehicle that was targeted and hit by an airstrike the day prior, Aug. 30.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Taliban fighters secure the outer perimeter alongside the American-controlled side of the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 29.

Taliban soldiers sit on a truck as they patrol Kabul
Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

Taliban fighters patrol a street in Kabul as suicide bomb threats hang over the final phase of the US military's airlift operation from Kabul.

Anti-Taliban resistance soldiers train by carrying logs as they walk through water
Ahmad Sahel Arman / AFP via Getty Images

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban forces take part in a military training exercise in Panjshir province on Aug. 30.

Afghan women and children are seen arriving at a school in the morning
Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

Students arrive to attend their morning classes at a government middle school in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Afghan students participate in class at a middle school
Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

Students attend their class at a government middle school in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Hoshang Hashimi / AFP via Getty Images

An Afghan boy stands along a road holding a bunch of balloons to sell in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

A Taliban fighter stands guard in an auditorium during a consultative meeting on the Taliban's general higher education policies at the Loya Jirga Hall in Kabul on Aug. 29.

Wakil Kohsar / AFP via Getty Images

Afghan residents and family members of the victims gather outside a house, a day after a US drone airstrike in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Taliban fighters stand outside Hamid Karzai International Airport as a plane flies over
Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A C-17 takes off as Taliban fighters stand outside Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 29.

American soldiers board an aircraft in Kabul
Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

US soldiers board an aircraft at the airport in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Emal Ahmadi (left) looks off into the distance after he said his family was killed in an American drone strike that targeted and hit a vehicle outside their home in Kabul, Aug. 30.

Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A crowd gathers around the burnt-out vehicle that was hit by an American drone strike, Aug. 30.

Stringer / Sputnik via AP

Locals view a vehicle damaged by a rocket attack in Kabul, Aug. 30.

Patients at a hospital lie in bed as they heal from injuries
Stringer / Sputnik via AP

People injured during a rocket attack are pictured at the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, in Kabul, Aug. 30.

Anti-Taliban militiamen circle up outside as they take part in a training exercise
Jalaluddin Sekandar / AP

Anti-Taliban militia take part in a training exercise in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 30.

An Afghan soldier holds a gun as he patrols a remote road
Ahmad Sahel Arman / AFP via Getty Images

A member of the Afghan resistance movement patrols a road in Rah-e Tang, Panjshir province, on Aug. 29.

Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Displaced Afghan families gather around tents they set up at a park in Kabul, on Aug. 29.

Wakil Kohsar / AFP via Getty Images

A Taliban fighter stands guard near a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Hoshang Hashimi / AFP via Getty Images

An Afghan fruit vendor pushes his cart full of bananas along a busy road in Kabul on Aug. 30.

Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty Images

US Air Force plane takes off from the airport in Kabul on Aug. 30.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.