President Joe Biden warned in a statement Saturday that the Pentagon believes it’s “highly likely” another attack on the Kabul airport will be attempted in the next 24-36 hours, while U.S. troops keep working to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline for a full withdrawal.
Biden said he’s directed forces to “take every possible measure” to protect U.S. service members on the ground.
Thirteen U.S. troops were killed in a suicide bombing at the airport Thursday, along with nearly 200 Afghans.
Biden has vowed the U.S. will continue evacuations from Afghanistan up until Tuesday, saying in the statement that more than 117,000 people have reached safety as a result of U.S. efforts.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous,” Biden said.
The Pentagon blamed Thursday’s bombing on an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan known as IS-K, which is also an enemy of the country’s new Taliban rulers. Biden said after the attack the U.S. would “hunt down” those responsible for the bombing, and appeared to start making good on that promise on Friday, when the U.S. carried out a drone strike in Nangarhar Province of northeastern Afghanistan, an area known to have once been an IS-K stronghold. Two IS-K militants were killed, with one believed to have planned the Kabul airport attack, Pentagon officials said Saturday. More strikes are expected against terrorist groups even after U.S. troops fully withdraw from the country.
The Department of Defense on Saturday confirmed the identities of all 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in Thursday’s bombing.