Biden officials warn another Kabul attack ‘likely’ before US leaves
National security officials warned President Biden on Friday that another terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, is “likely” in the final days of the U.S. military mission in the country.
Biden and Vice President Harris met with Pentagon officials and members of the president’s national security team one day after a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport attributed to ISIS killed more than a dozen U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians.
“They advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing.
“They reported that even in the face of those threats, our courageous service women and men are continuing to operate a historic evacuation operation,” she added. “The U.S. military is airlifting out thousands of people every few hours.”
“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,” Psaki said.
Pentagon officials had warned in the aftermath of Thursday’s bombing that another attack, including one using a car bomb or some other device, was still a possibility. The airport at Kabul has been a target for terrorists, officials have warned, as thousands of Afghan civilians and American citizens make their way there to evacuate the country before the military withdrawal at the end of the month.
“We still believe there are credible threats. In fact, I’d say specific, credible threats, and we want to make sure we’re prepared for those,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday.
Biden has remained committed to getting all troops out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31, despite the terrorist attack on Thursday prompting some lawmakers to call for an extension so all Americans and Afghans who aided in the war effort can be safely taken out of the country.
But the president has warned the longer U.S. forces remain in the country, the more dangerous the situation will be.
The White House said 12,500 people were evacuated from Afghanistan on Thursday despite the bombing, and more than 100,000 people have been taken out of the country since the end of July.
Biden vowed on Thursday to hunt down the terrorists responsible for the attack outside the airport. Military officials updated the president and vice president on Friday on plans to develop targets for such a response, the White House said.
“The president reaffirmed with the commanders his approval of all authorities they need to conduct the operation and protect our troops, and all reported back that they have the resources they believe they need to do so effectively,” Psaki said.
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