Defense

White House: Biden told commanders to ‘stop at nothing’ to go after ISIS

WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP
A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the August 26 twin suicide bombs, which killed scores of people including 13 US troops, at Kabul airport on August 27, 2021.

President Biden has told his top generals that they should “stop at nothing” to make Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate pay for the 13 U.S. service members’ deaths in Kabul last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

“I can tell you that the president has made clear to his commanders that they should stop at nothing to make ISIS pay for the deaths of those American service members at the Kabul airport,” Psaki said when asked if Biden personally gave the Pentagon permission for a Sunday drone strike on an explosives-laden vehicle.

U.S. Central Command carried out the airstrike on the vehicle, which was traveling through a residential neighborhood in Kabul carrying “an imminent ISIS-K threat” to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to the Defense Department.

The strike follows a suicide bombing carried out by so-called ISIS-K, a branch of ISIS that operates in South Asia and Central Asia, near the airport Thursday that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans.

“They have the authorities necessary, it is self-defense,” Psaki continued. “Obviously, these are ISIS terrorists who killed U.S. service members, and the president is regularly briefed, but he has directed them to go after and to kill these ISIS terrorists who have taken the lives of the men and women serving our country.”

But the military action was not without civilian casualties, with 10 members of one family, including two children younger than 3 years old, killed in the strike, CNN reported.

U.S. military officials earlier Monday acknowledged reports of civilian casualties as the result of the drone strike.

As the deadline to end U.S. military presence in Afghanistan approaches its final hours, Psaki said Americans can “expect to hear from the president in the coming days.”

She would not specifically say whether Biden would speak Tuesday, the day all American troops are expected to leave.

She also declined to say precisely when the remaining U.S. troops will depart Afghanistan.

Tags Afghanistan ISIS Jen Psaki Joe Biden Kabul

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