Biden Vows More Strikes Against Daesh-K as New Terrorist Attack 'Highly Likely' Within 24-36 Hours
18:49 GMT 28.08.2021 (Updated: 09:14 GMT 29.08.2021)
A US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan reportedly killed two Daesh-Khorasan* leaders and wounded a third on Friday, with the attack launched in response to Thursday's deadly suicide bombings at the Kabul airport, which killed at least 182 people (including 13 US troops and an unknown number of Taliban members) and injured over 1,300 others.
US President Joe Biden has promised to conduct additional strikes against Daesh-Khorasan fighters in Afghanistan, and indicated that the US deems the threat of a new attack on the Kabul airport "highly likely" over the next 24-36 hours.
"[Friday's] strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt," a readout of Biden's remarks posted by the White House on Saturday says.
"The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. 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 will have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground," Biden added, according to the release.
The president also confirmed that "despite the treacherous situation" in the Afghan capital, US forces were continuing the evacuation of civilians, with 6,800 people, including "hundreds of Americans," taken out of the country aboard military transport on Friday. Biden said that over 117,000 people have been evacuated over the past month or so.
13 US troops, including 12 Marines and a Navy corpsman, were among the over 180 people killed during Thursday's terrorist suicide bomb attacks on the Kabul airport. Daesh-Khorasan, the branch of Daesh operating in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Central Asia, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted "the Crusaders and apostates around Kabul Airport," including US troops and "spies."
Daesh-Khorasan and the Taliban* have waged a brutal factional war since at least 2015, with the former considering the latter "too moderate."
The airport attack has led to a new and unprecedented level of cooperation between US forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Taliban forces, with the Pentagon indicating Friday that they have shared intelligence with the militant group in an effort to prevent further terror attacks and American casualties. The Taliban assisted in guarding the Kabul airport before the suicide bombings, and promised to assist and facilitate in the evacuation of US forces and all those who want to go with them. Despite the cooperation, the two sides have also issued statements blaming one another for failing to stop the Thursday bombings.
On Saturday, Taliban representative Zbihullah Mujahid told Reuters that the US should have warned the militants about Friday's drone strike on Daesh-Khorasan targets, given that the strikes constituted an "attack on Afghan soil." The spokesman said the strikes injured two women and a child, contradicting US claims that they caused no civilian casualties.
* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.