Marine reduced to tears as he relives carnage of withdrawal from Afghanistan

A former US Marine sergeant badly injured in a suicide blast broke down as he told a Congressional committee of the carnage during the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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

The 25-year-old, who lost his right arm and leg, sobbed as he recalled ‘a flash and a massive wave of pressure’.

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

Mr Vargas-Andrews said Marines never received a response from commanders despite having two suspected bombers in their rifle sights, which is disputed by the Pentagon. ‘The withdrawal was a catastrophe in my opinion. And there was an inexcusable lack of accountability,’ he told the committee of House Republicans.

Witnesses recalled mothers carrying dead babies and the Taliban shooting people. The group seized the Afghan capital far quicker than foreseen by US intelligence as the West pulled out.

Army medic Aidan Gunderson said: ‘I see the faces of all of those we could not save, those we left behind.’

Retired Lt Colonel David Scott Mann said the end of America’s longest war had left the US at the ‘front end of a mental health tsunami’.

The hearings are examining Joe Biden’s handling of the withdrawal but have been told blame is shared by presidents from George W Bush onwards.

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