Biden mourns service members killed in Kabul bombing at dignified transfer

Biden mourns service members killed in Kabul bombing at dignified transfer
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President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE on Sunday met in Delaware with the families of U.S. service members who died last week in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, and witnessed the return of the service members' remains.

The president and the first lady left early Sunday for Dover Air Force Base, where they met with the families and participated in a dignified transfer.

The Bidens arrived with Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden administration prepared to use 'other tools' on Iran amid troubled nuclear talks Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Overnight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine MORE and other dignitaries taking part in the transfers at the base, according to a reporter traveling with the president in Delaware.

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The officials walked up a ramp into a C-17 military transport for a prayer, then emerged to take up positions as the transfers began.

The president clasped his right hand to his chest when the order to “present arms” came with each transfer case, the reported noted, while military officers saluted. President Biden’s eyes were reportedly locked on the cases as they were carried to the transfer vehicles, occasionally bowing his head and appearing to close his eyes.

Thirteen U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans died last Thursday in a bombing near the airport in Kabul, where U.S. forces were working to evacuate thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan civilians ahead of Tuesday's full withdrawal of American troops from the country.

The Pentagon on Saturday released the names of the fallen troops, who ranged in age from 20 to 25 years old.

U.S. officials determined ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State, was responsible for the attack. The military carried out a retaliatory strike on Friday that the Pentagon said killed two high-profile ISIS-K leaders, but it has not released any specifics. Biden on Saturday vowed it would not be the last strike in response to the bombing in Kabul.

Biden has lauded the service members who lost their lives as heroes, noting they were working to get others to safety when they died.

"They were part of the bravest, most capable, and the most selfless military on the face of the Earth. And they were part of, simply, what I call the 'backbone of America.' They’re the spine of America, the best the country has to offer," Biden said Thursday following the attack.

The U.S. has evacuated more than 100,000 Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan since the end of July. The military mission is set to wind down fully by Tuesday, and Biden and others have warned that another terrorist attack could be imminent as the U.S. military prepares to make its final withdrawal. 

--Updated at 1:10 p.m.