Biden warns another attack in Kabul ‘highly likely’ as US withdrawal nears
President Biden warned Saturday afternoon that the risk of another terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, remains “highly likely” following a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans.
In a statement released by the White House, Biden said that he met with national security officials and vowed the U.S. would carry out further strikes against the terrorists responsible for the bombing.
The Pentagon confirmed a first strike against ISIS-K late Friday.
The news comes just days before the deadline Biden set to get all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, completing a withdrawal of forces after 20 years of war in the region.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” Biden said in the statement. “Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.
“I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground,” Biden added. “They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel.”
Biden has stuck to his Aug. 31 deadline for getting all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. The timeline has not shifted even in the aftermath of the Thursday bombing outside the airport in Kabul.
The Pentagon attributed the bombing to an affiliate of ISIS that mainly operates out of South and Central Asia. The U.S. military on Friday night confirmed a military strike killed two “high-profile” targets described as “planners and facilitators,” though officials would not provide names or additional information about the targets.
Biden, who pledged to “hunt down” those responsible for Thursday’s attack, said he discussed the retaliatory strike during his meeting with national security officials on Saturday.
“This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay,” Biden said in a statement. “Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt.”
U.S. forces are working to evacuate as many American citizens and Afghan allies of the war effort as possible while also destroying or moving equipment to be taken out of the country prior to Tuesday’s deadline.
The complex nature of the operation and the thousands of people making their way to the airport in Kabul raise the threat of another terrorist attack, government officials have warned.
The White House said nearly 7,000 people were evacuated from Kabul between 3 a.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday, bringing the total number of evacuees since the end of July to approximately 117,500.
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