Pentagon Says Threat to Kabul Airport Remains 'Real' and 'Specific' as Evacuations Wrap Up
14:56 GMT 30.08.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
According to media reports, the US plans to finish the withdrawal from Afghanistan on 31 August despite earlier mulling to stay as long as needed to evacuate all eligible persons. The same report suggested that Washington had already evacuated all Afghan employees of the now closed embassy in Kabul.
The Pentagon has stated that the threat of attacks on Kabul International Airport remains "real and specific".
"We're in a particularly dangerous time right now. The threat stream is still real, it's still active, and in many cases it's still specific", Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.
Earlier, a local offshoot of Daesh* carried out suicide bomber attacks at the airport after repeated warnings from US and UK officials that such assaults were possible and expected. Despite NATO forces being informed of the threat, the attackers managed to kill over 200 people at the overcrowded airport, including 13 US service members.
Daesh-K members also fired several rockets at the airport on 29 August, but none of them reached the target, having being intercepted by a US-installed missile shield.
Pentagon 'Not in a Position to Dispute' Reports of Civilian Casualties After Kabul Strike
Following the suicide bomber attack on the airport, the US carried out an airstrike against a vehicle allegedly carrying Daesh-K fighters and laden with explosives in Kabul. Despite the Pentagon claiming the strike only killed members of the terrorist group, several reports from CNN, as well as local media, suggested that the strike resulted in the death of nine civilians, including six children.
The Department of Defence's spokesman John Kirby addressed the reports in a presser on 30 August, saying that the Pentagon can't currently dispute the reports of civilian casualties, adding that a probe into the claims is ongoing.
"We are not in a position to dispute [reports of civilian casualties] right now. We’re addressing [the issue] and we’re investigating", Kirby stated.
Previously, US Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban reported that American forces had eliminated a Daesh-K threat to the airport as a result of the strike in Kabul. He added that the Department of Defence was still "assessing the results of this strike" and that they were still investigating reports about civilian casualties. CNN claimed in its report that "an ordinary family" who was not affiliated with Daesh was killed in the airstrike on 29 August.
The reported airstrike tragedy in Kabul comes as the US is wrapping up its evacuation of Americans, eligible Afghans, and its military from Afghanistan. The latest media reports suggest that Washington has already finished evacuating Afghan employees from the now-closed Kabul embassy and plans to complete the withdrawal on 31 August. US Army Major General Hank Taylor stated on 30 August that over 122,000 people, including 5,400 Americans, had been evacuated from Kabul during the withdrawal process.
*Daesh-K (also known as ISIS-K) is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other countries