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Former President George W. Bush speaks during a May event in Florida. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush said late Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush had "been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness."

Why it matters: Bush ordered the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and deny al-Qaeda of a haven to launch any more terrorist attacks on the U.S. following 9/11. He said last month that President Biden's decision to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan would leave Afghan women and girls facing "unspeakable harm."

What he's saying: The former president said in a statement that he, Laura Bush and the George W. Bush Presidential Center "stand ready as Americans to lend our support and assistance in this time of need" after the Taliban declared victory Monday following its seizure of Kabul.

  • The former first couple's "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."
  • Bush stressed that he's "confident that the evacuation efforts will be effective because they are being carried out by the remarkable men and women of the United States Armed Forces, diplomatic corps and intelligence community."
  • In a message for the American personnel who served in Afghanistan, he added: "We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and will always honor your contributions."

Go deeper

Colin Powell dies from COVID complications at 84

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family announced Monday. He was 84.

Driving the news: The Powell family said in a statement that he was fully vaccinated. He had undergone treatment for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that can weaken the immune system, a spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

24 hours ago - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

In photos: The life of Colin Powell

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19 on Monday.

The big picture: In addition to serving as secretary of state from 2001-05, he also was the first Black security adviser to a president when he served for President Reagan and was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President George H.W. Bush.

  • Powell was fully vaccinated but had undergone treatment for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that can weaken the immune system, a spokesperson said.