US President Biden on Thursday (local time) vowed the United States will carry out strikes against the group responsible for the bombings that killed a dozen Americans.
“To those who carried out this attack…know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said in prepared remarks from the East Room of the White House.
The President further added the US has “some reason to believe” the US knows the identities of the ISIS leaders who ordered the attacks. “We will find ways of our choosing, without large military operations, to get them – wherever they are.”
Biden in his message said he asked military commanders for plans to strike ISIS-K, saying the US will respond with “precision…at a place that we choose, and the moment of our choosing.”
The Commander in Chief also declared the US would carry out its plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month.
“We can and we must complete this mission and we will,” Biden asserted. “And that’s what I’ve ordered them to do. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.”
Pentagon officials said two suicide bombers, determined to be affiliated with ISIS, were involved in the attack. One bomb went off near a gate just outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, followed by gunfire, and another bomb exploded near the Baron Hotel a short distance away.
The Thursday attack was the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan in roughly a decade. At least 60 Afghan civilians also died in Thursday’s bombings.
The President held a moment of silence and offered condolences to the families of U.S. service members who died in the Kabul explosion. In his message, Biden called the American service members who lost their lives “heroes” and “the best the country has to offer.”
“The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others, in the service of America,” he said. Biden stressed “I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country…it was time to end a 20 year war”
The Biden administration had bluntly warned just days earlier of the increasing likelihood of a terrorist attack around the airport the longer U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan. Officials had in recent days sought to focus attention on rapidly escalating efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghan civilians who aided the U.S. war effort or who were considered vulnerable populations under Taliban rule.
The U.S. has evacuated more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan since the end of July. The State Department said earlier Thursday there were roughly 1,000 Americans remaining in the country, roughly 700 of which are taking steps to leave.
At a Pentagon press conference, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said 15 U.S. troops are among the injured. He said the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombings, followed by gunfire. A U.S. official told The Associated Press the attack is “definitely believed” to have been carried out by the Islamic State group. While McKenzie didn’t blame ISIS-K, he did say “the threat from ISIS-K is very real.”
McKenzie added the evacuation has now taken 104,000 people out of Afghanistan, including nearly 5,000 Americans. He estimates about 1,000 Americans remain. Aug. 31 — this coming Tuesday — is the administration’s planned withdrawal deadline.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) ordered that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the federal government till August 30 to honour the victims of Kabul attack.
While honouring the victims of the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Biden said, “As a mark of respect for the US service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack on August 26, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, August 30, 2021.”
US President also directed that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
“In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth,” he added.
Earlier, US President said the United States has reason to believe the leaders of the Islamic State-Khorasan terror group are behind the attacks at the Kabul airport.
Biden said the Islamic State-Khorasan has planned complex attacks against US forces and others in Afghanistan after they were released from prisons during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
As many as 13 US troops were killed and 15 service members were injured including numerous Afghan civilians in twin bomb blasts outside Kabul airport on Thursday. The first blast was reported at the Abbey Gate in Kabul airport while the second one was near the Baron Hotel.