Pentagon says 2 'high-profile' ISIS targets killed in strike

The Pentagon said Saturday that the U.S. military strike the day before killed two "high-profile" ISIS targets and wounded a third in the first known U.S. military action since Thursday's deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff for regional operations, described the two targets in a press briefing as "planners and facilitators."

Taylor added that officials would not release additional information on the targets' specific roles within the terrorist group or their level of involvement in the Thursday bombing.

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The bombing — the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in a decade — killed 13 U.S. service members as well as at least 170 Afghans. ISIS-K, which operates in northeastern Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.

U.S. Central Command initially said Friday that an "over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation" had killed a single target, described as an "ISIS-K planner." 

However, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in the briefing Saturday that "as the assessments and information flowed over time, we were able to recognize that another was killed as well and one wounded." 

When asked if the strike was part of ongoing anti-terrorism efforts or an action in retaliation for Thursday's bombing, Kirby acknowledged it was "a little bit of both." 

"We have the ability to conduct over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities," he said, adding, "It's not a coincidence that it happened just a couple of days after we lost 13 brave service members." 

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's national security team has warned him that another terrorist attack at the Kabul airport is "likely" as the U.S. continues its military operations to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies who remain in Afghanistan.

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Kirby said Saturday that while ISIS-K had "lost some capability to plan and to conduct missions" following the U.S. strike, the security threat posed by the group is still concerning and is being actively monitored by U.S. officials. 

"The threat stream is still active, still dynamic," he said. "We're still laser-focused on that and force protection, and we aren't thinking for a minute that what happened yesterday gets us in the clear, not a minute." 

The press secretary also confirmed Friday that U.S. troops have begun a retrograde, or gradual departure, from the airport in Kabul but declined to provide any details on the number of soldiers left in the area.