Marine weeps as he tells Congress about disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan

Tyler Vargas-Andrews

Former Marine Sgt Tyler Vargas-Andrews is visibly upset as he tells his story (Image: AP)

A former US Marine sergeant badly injured in a suicide bombing broke down while telling a congressional committee about the carnage during the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Tyler Vargas-Andrews described the smell of human flesh beneath a huge plume of smoke as screams filled the air around Kabul airport after the blast that killed 170 Afghans and 13 US service members in August 2021.

The 25-year-old, who lost his right arm and leg, sobbed as he recalled “a flash and a massive blast”.

He said: “I was thrown 12 feet to the ground but knew straight away what had happened. I opened my eyes to Marines lying dead or unconscious around me. A crowd of hundreds immediately disappeared in front of me. And my body was catastrophically wounded with 100 to 150 ball bearings in it now.’

Mr Vargas-Andrews said the Marines never received a response from commanders despite targeting two suspected bombers, which the Pentagon denies. “The withdrawal was a disaster in my opinion. And there was an inexcusable lack of accountability,” he told the House Republican Committee.

Afghanistan Crisis - Kabul Airport

Afghans fight during chaotic scenes at Kabul airport (Image: EPA)

Witnesses recalled mothers carrying dead babies and the Taliban shooting people. The group captured the Afghan capital much faster than US intelligence anticipated as the West retreated.

Army medic Aidan Gunderson said, “I see the faces of all those we couldn’t save, those we left behind.”

Retired Lt. Col. David Scott Mann said the end of America’s longest war left the US on the “front end of a mental health tsunami.”

The hearings are examining Joe Biden’s handling of the withdrawal, but blame has been said to be shared by Presidents George W. Bush onwards.

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Justin Scaccy

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