December 3, 2021

US airstrikes Afghanistan: Drone targets ISIS member after deadly Kabul airport suicide bombing attack

WASHINGTON — Performing swiftly on President Joe Biden’s promise to retaliate for the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport, the U.S. army stated it used a drone strike to kill a member of the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.

The strike Saturday got here amid what the White Home referred to as indications that IS deliberate to strike once more because the U.S.-led evacuation from Kabul airport moved into its closing days. Biden has set Tuesday as his deadline for finishing the exit.

Biden licensed the drone strike and it was ordered by Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, a protection official stated, talking on situation of anonymity to supply particulars not but publicly introduced.

The airstrike was launched from past Afghanistan lower than 48 hours after the devastating Kabul attack that killed 13 People and scores of Afghans with simply days left in a closing U.S. withdrawal after 20 years of warfare. U.S. Central Command supplied few particulars; it stated it believed its strike killed no civilians.

The velocity with which the U.S. army retaliated mirrored its shut monitoring of IS and years of expertise in concentrating on extremists in distant elements of the world. However it additionally exhibits the boundaries of U.S. energy to remove extremist threats, which some imagine can have extra freedom of motion in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in energy.

Central Command stated the drone strike was performed in Nangahar province in opposition to an IS member believed to be concerned in planning assaults in opposition to america in Kabul. The strike killed one particular person, spokesman Navy Capt. William City stated.

It wasn’t clear if the focused particular person was concerned straight within the Thursday suicide blast outdoors the gates of the Kabul airport, the place crowds of Afghans had been desperately attempting to get in as a part of the continuing evacuation.

The airstrike got here after Biden declared Thursday that perpetrators of the attack wouldn’t have the ability to disguise. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he stated. Pentagon leaders advised reporters Friday that they had been ready for no matter retaliatory motion the president ordered.

“We have options there right now,” stated Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Workers.

The president was warned Friday to anticipate one other deadly attack within the closing days of a frantic U.S.-led evacuation. White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated Biden’s nationwide safety crew provided a grim outlook.

“They advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” Psaki stated, echoing what the Pentagon has been saying because the bombing Thursday at Kabul airport.

Late Friday, the State Division once more urged People to avoid airport gates, together with “the New Ministry of Interior gate.”

Few new particulars in regards to the airport attack emerged a day later, however the Pentagon corrected its preliminary report that there had been suicide bombings at two places. It stated there was only one – at or close to the Abbey Gate – adopted by gunfire. The preliminary report of a second bombing on the close by Baron Resort proved to be false, stated Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Workers; he attributed the error to preliminary confusion.

Based mostly on a preliminary evaluation, U.S. officers imagine the suicide vest used within the attack, which killed not less than 169 Afghans along with the 13 People, carried about 25 kilos of explosives and was loaded with shrapnel, a U.S. official stated Friday. A suicide bomb usually carries 5 to 10 kilos of explosives, stated the official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate preliminary assessments of the bombing.

Biden nonetheless faces the issue over the long run of containing an array of potential extremist threats based mostly in Afghanistan, which might be more durable with fewer U.S. intelligence property and no army presence within the nation.

Emily Harding, a former CIA analyst and deputy workers director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated she doubted Biden’s assurances that america will have the ability to monitor and strike terror threats from past Afghanistan’s borders. The Pentagon additionally insists this so-called “over the horizon” functionality, which incorporates surveillance and strike plane based mostly within the Persian Gulf space, might be efficient.

In an Oval Workplace look Friday, Biden once more expressed his condolences to victims of the attack. The return residence of U.S. army members’ stays in coming days will present painful and poignant reminders not simply of the devastation on the Kabul airport but in addition of the pricey manner the warfare is ending. Greater than 2,400 U.S. service members died within the warfare and tens of 1000’s had been injured over the previous twenty years.

The Marine Corps stated 11 of the 13 People killed had been Marines. One was a Navy sailor and one an Military soldier. Their names haven’t been launched pending notification of their households, a sometimes-lengthy course of that Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated includes “difficult conversations.”

Nonetheless, sorrowful particulars of these killed had been beginning to emerge. One Marine from Wyoming was on his first tour in Afghanistan and his spouse is anticipating a child in three weeks; one other was a 20-year-old man from Missouri whose father was devastated by the loss. A 3rd, a 20-year-old from Texas, had joined the armed providers out of highschool.

Biden ordered U.S. flags to half-staff throughout the nation in honor of the 13.

Younger dad-to-be was amongst 13 US troops killed in Kabul Airport attack

They had been the primary U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020, the month the Trump administration struck an settlement with the Taliban that referred to as for the militant group to halt assaults on People in change for a U.S. settlement to take away all American troops and contractors by Could 2021. Biden introduced in April that he would have all forces out by September.

Psaki stated the subsequent few days of the mission to evacuate People and others, together with susceptible Afghans fleeing Taliban rule, “will be the most dangerous period to date.”

The White Home stated that as of Friday morning, about 12,500 folks had been airlifted from Kabul within the final 24 hours on U.S. and coalition plane; within the 12 hours that adopted, one other 4,200 folks had been evacuated. Psaki stated about 300 People had departed and the State Division was working with about 500 extra who wish to depart. The administration has stated it intends to push on and full the airlift regardless of the fear threats.

Kirby advised reporters the U.S. army is monitoring credible, particular Islamic State threats “in real time.”

“We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts,” Kirby stated. He declined to explain particulars of any extra safety measures being taken, together with these applied by the Taliban, across the airport gates and perimeter. He stated there have been fewer folks in and across the gates Friday.

Related Press writers Aamer Madhani, Darlene Superville and Nomaan Service provider in Washington contributed to this report.