'We Will Not Forgive, We Will Not Forget': Biden Vows to Hunt Down Terrorists Behind Kabul Blasts
21:31 GMT 26.08.2021 (Updated: 22:41 GMT 26.08.2021)
© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstU.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Afghanistan, from the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 26, 2021
© REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
At least 12 US troops and dozens of Afghans were killed following two bombing attacks outside Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday. Alerts warning of a major attack came as desperate evacuees were flocking to the already-congested Kabul airport in an attempt to flee Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden announced during a Thursday news briefing that while US military leadership has been commanded to complete their evacuation mission in Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline, he has also directed personnel to "hunt down" the militants behind the terror attacks in Kabul.
"We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation," Biden declared. "I've also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike [Daesh-K*] assets, leadership and facilities."
The US president vowed to respond with "force and precision" against the group, which claimed responsibility for the fatal terror incidents in the Afghan capital.
American forces have been commanded to take "maximum steps necessary" to protected forces on the ground in Kabul, Biden remarked.
The speech took a religious turn as Biden began quoting the Book of Isaiah, saying that forces have drawn inspiration from the teachings, and are a modern example of those who make sacrifices without the thought of "glory" or "profit." He then called for a moment of silence.
When asked about the timeline of the evacuation following the attacks, Biden said that US military leadership has conveyed they are committed to transporting as many evacuees out of Kabul as possible within the August 31 deadline.
Biden dismissed concerns about possible collusion between the Taliban* and Daesh-K forces, noting that no evidence of such conduct has been observed by the US. The Pentagon noted earlier on Thursday that American forces are in contact with the Taliban, and are communicating to deter future attacks on the airport.
The US president emphasized that the Taliban and US military have a shared interest in fortifying the airport, as it would be tougher for either group to maintain alone.
While Biden told a reporter that he believes he "fundamentally" bears responsibility for "all that's happened of late," the US president also emphasized that it was former US President Donald Trump who "made a deal with the Taliban."
Nevertheless, the US will continue to attempt to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan, even if that means approving the deployment of additional US forces to the region, according to Biden's remarks.
He also acknowledged that there will more than likely be some individuals who will need to be transported from the country after the August 31 deadline.
*The Taliban and Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) are terrorist organizations outlawed in Russia and many other states.