Biden: Another Likely Attack, Promises More Strikes Against ISIS | News, Sports, Jobs
By ROBERT BURNS Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Saturday pledged to continue air strikes against the Islamic extremist group whose suicide bombing at Kabul airport killed dozens of Afghans and 13 US servicemen. Another terrorist attack, he said, is “very likely” this weekend as the United States ends its evacuation.
The Pentagon said the remaining contingent of U.S. forces at the airport, now numbering less than 4,000, began its final withdrawal before Biden’s deadline to end the evacuation on Tuesday.
After being briefed on Saturday morning of a US drone mission in eastern Afghanistan that the Pentagon said killed two members of the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group, Biden said extremists can expect see you.
“This strike was not the last,” Biden said in a statement. “We will continue to hunt down anyone involved in this heinous attack and make them pay. He paid tribute to the “bravery and selflessness” of American troops carrying out the hasty airlift of tens of thousands of people from Kabul airport, including the 13 American servicemen who were killed in the bombing. Thursday suicide at the door of an airport.
The evacuation continued as tensions mounted over the prospect of another IS attack.
“Our commanders have informed me that an attack is very likely within the next 24 to 36 hours,” Biden said, adding that he had asked them to take all possible measures to protect their troops, who are securing the airport. and help bring on the airfield. Americans and others desperate to escape Taliban rule.
The remains of the 13 American soldiers were en route to the United States, the Pentagon said. Their journey marked a painful moment in a nearly 20-year American war that claimed the lives of more than 2,400 American servicemen and ends with the return to power of a Taliban movement that was overthrown in the invasion. US forces in October 2001.
The remains of troops killed in action overseas are typically returned to the United States via Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the return of fallen troops on American soil is marked by a solemn movement known as ” transfer with dignity ”.
The White House did not say on Saturday whether Biden would travel to Dover for the return of the troops. Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said shortly after the attack that the president would “do everything possible to honor the sacrifice and service” of those killed.
The Pentagon released the names of those killed – 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier. Twelve of them were in their twenties; some were born in 2001, the year in which America’s longest war began. The oldest was 31 years old.
They were the first US servicemen killed in Afghanistan since February 2020, the month the Trump administration struck a deal with the Taliban in which the militant group ended attacks on Americans in exchange for a US deal to withdraw. all troops and sub-contractors by May 2021. Biden announced in April that the 2,500 to 3,000 remaining troops would be out by September, ending what he called the Eternal War of ‘America.
With Biden’s approval, the Pentagon sent thousands more troops to Kabul airport this month to provide security and facilitate the State Department’s chaotic efforts to evacuate thousands of Americans and dozens. thousands of Afghans who had helped the United States during the war. The evacuation was marred by confusion and chaos as the US government was taken by surprise when the Afghan army collapsed and the Taliban seized power on August 15.
About 5,400 Americans have been evacuated from the country so far, including 300 on the last day. The State Department estimates that about 350 other people are lacking; he said there were about 280 other people who said they were American but did not notify the State Department of their intention to leave the country, or who said they planned to stay.
Countless numbers of vulnerable Afghans, fearing a return to the brutality of the pre-2001 Taliban regime, are likely to be left behind. Biden and leaders of other Western countries have said they will try to work with the Taliban to allow Afghans who worked with them to leave after the US-led evacuation ends.
The Pentagon said about 6,800 people, mostly Afghans, were airlifted in the 24 hours that ended Saturday morning, bringing to 113,500 the total number of people of all nationalities evacuated since the start of the rushed out on August 14.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US military force at Kabul airport, which peaked at around 5,800, has begun its final withdrawal. The number had fallen below 4,000 on Saturday, according to a US official who discussed details not yet released on condition of anonymity. Kirby said that for security reasons, the Pentagon will not provide a day-to-day description of the final stages of the military withdrawal, which includes the flight of troops from the country as well as equipment.
The Pentagon said an airstrike early Saturday local time in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, killed two IS “planners and facilitators”.
“They lost some ability to plan and conduct missions, but make no mistake, no one forgets that and says, ‘Well, we got them. We don’t have to worry about ISIS-K anymore. It is not, ”Kirby said at a press conference, using an abbreviation for the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan.
Biden also faces the longer-term problem of containing an array of potential extremist threats based in Afghanistan, which will be more difficult with less U.S. intelligence assets and no military presence in the country. Critics say Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves the door open for the growth of Al-Qaida, Islamic State and other extremist groups and potentially threatens the United States. It was al-Qaida’s use of Afghanistan as a base, with the assent of the Taliban, that prompted the United States to invade the country in October 2001, starting the longest war in state history. -United.
Saturday’s drone mission came less than two days after the Kabul attack and Biden’s public plea that he would make ISIS “pay” for his suicide bombing. Officials did not claim that the two people killed played a direct role in the attack on Kabul airport on Thursday.
Kirby refused to disclose the names and nationalities of the two killed. He said another person was injured in the strike. The speed with which the United States retaliated reflected its close monitoring of ISIS and years of experience targeting extremists in remote parts of the world. But it also shows the limits of US power to eliminate the threat from extremists, who some say will have more freedom of movement in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in power.
Kirby said the United States has “the ability and the means to deploy counterterrorism capabilities on the horizon and we will defend ourselves,” referring to the military’s use of aircraft based in the Gulf region. Persian and elsewhere to carry out strikes in Afghanistan.
Associated Press editors Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show that the total number of evacuees is 113,500 since August 14. The previously quoted figure, 117,000, was for the entire month of August.