George W. Bush said he felt ‘deep sadness’ watching the Taliban seize Afghanistan, 20 years after he sent US troops to invade the country

President George W. Bush seen with Afghanistan Interim Authority Chairman Hamid Karzai January 28, 2002
President George W. Bush (R) seen with Afghanistan Interim Authority Chairman Hamid Karzai (L) on January 28, 2002.
  • The Taliban claimed control of Afghanistan on Sunday, capturing the capital city of Kabul.
  • President George W. Bush said Monday he felt a "deep sadness" watching the conquest.
  • Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 following the 9/11 attacks.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President George W. Bush said Monday he felt a "deep sadness" watching Afghanistan fall to the Taliban.

Bush first sent US troops to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom," the mission to seek out those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In the past 18 months, the US has slowly withdrawn troops from Afghanistan. In their absence, the Taliban have made huge gains, claiming provinces and cities across the country, culminating with the capture of Kabul on Sunday.

Bush expressed his thoughts in a statement carried by Reuters late Monday.

"Laura and I have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness. Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much," he said.

Notably, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq and John Haltiwanger previously reported, Bush rejected an offer from the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden in exchange for the US to stop bombing the country in December 2001.

Video footage from Kabul released in the past 48 hours has laid bare the state of the country for all to see.

Hundreds of Afghan civilians flocked to Kabul Airport on Sunday in an attempt to board flights out of the country, with one video showing a number of Afghans clinging onto the landing gear of US Air Force craft on the runway. Several were seen falling from the sky.

On Monday, one US Air Force aircraft departed the airport carrying 640 Afghans to safety, despite only being designed to carry 150 people.

President Joe Biden said Monday that he stands "squarely" behind the US exit despite the pandemonium.

"How many more American lives is it worth?" he said.

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