United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan was necessary and hailed the evacuation mission as an “extraordinary success”.

“We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago,” Biden said while addressing the country from the White House. “Then we stayed for another decade...The fundamental obligation of a President, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America – not against threats of 2001, but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow.”

Biden was referring to the terrorist attack in New York city on September 11, 2001. Thousands had died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington and a Pennsylvania field in 2001.

After the 9/11 attacks, the United States had launched what it called a global war on terrorism against insurgent groups, under the presidency of George W Bush.

During his speech on Tuesday, the president asserted that the United States will continue its fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries. “We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it,” he added.

Biden said that the United States had retaliated against the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, a day after an attack outside the Kabul international airport killed 13 American soldiers and hundreds of Afghans.

The terror attack on August 26 came as the United States and other Western countries were completing the evacuation of tens of thousands of citizens and Afghans ahead of an August 31 deadline for the American troops to exit Afghanistan. Terrorist group Islamic State of Khorasan had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Biden warned the ISIS-K, a local branch of Islamic State, saying: “We are not done with you yet.”

The American president said that his country no longer had a “clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan”. He added that he kept his promise to end the 20-year-long American mission in Afghanistan when he was campaigning for the presidential elections.

Biden has been criticised for his decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. The last-minute evacuations of Afghans, diplomats, and the United States military personnel has been called chaotic and rushed.

Distressing visuals had emerged from Afghanistan during the evacuation, showing Afghans clinging to the side of a moving American military plane leaving Kabul airport.

The president admitted that the assumption that the Afghan security forces would be able to hold out for some time following withdrawal of American troops “turned out not to be accurate”. The Taliban had seized control of Afghanistan far more swiftly than the president and his advisers anticipated.

Meanwhile, citizens of other countries still remain stranded in Afghanistan after the last American troops and diplomats departed the country. A senior United States State Department official told CNN that about 250 Americans were left behind in the country.

“We are trying to determine exactly how many,” United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “We’re going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists.”

On August 27, India said that some of its citizens willing to leave Afghanistan were still awaiting evacuation, but the exact number was not clear.

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