The US has conducted an airstrike against an ISIS-K planner, US Central Command said in a statement Friday. The White House says the next few days will be the “most dangerous”
The White House told reporters that President Biden’s national security team advised him Friday that another attack in Kabul is likely.
“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement about the briefing Biden received. Officials are “taking maximum-force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” she added.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul is again issuing a warning about “security threats at the Kabul airport,” this time urging Americans at the airport gates to “leave immediately.”
The Pentagon has announced a drone strike against the group that bombed the Kabul airport, ISIS-K. A spokesman for U.S. Central Command says the attack in Nangahar Province of Afghanistan is believed to have killed the target, who was not named in the statement. The spokesman said there were no known civilian casualties.
“U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan,” spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.
“Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties,” Urban continued. Two military flights have arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany with the Americans wounded in the attack.
Meanwhile , Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said during a Pentagon briefing Friday that there was one suicide bomber in Thursday’s attack in Kabul. There was not a second bomber at the nearby Baron Hotel, as the Pentagon previously said.
President Joe Biden has said the U.S. planned to conduct “over the horizon” operations — often drone strikes — against terrorist targets even after troops left the country on Aug. 31.
In a meeting in the White House Situation Room, commanders also updated Biden and Vice President Harris on plans to develop ISIS-K targets, white house press secretary Jen Psaki Psaki added during the briefing. The U.S. is blaming ISIS-K, or Islamic State Khorasan, for Thursday’s attack.
The White House said about 12,500 people were evacuated from Kabul in the 24 hours ending at 3 a.m. ET Friday, bringing the total number evacuated from Afghanistan to 111,000, including 5,100 US. Citizens. The military will keep processing those with proper credentials — U.S. citizens, green card holders and those with Afghan special immigrant visas. The U.S. will keep evacuating them “until the very end,” Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said during a Pentagon briefing Friday. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said earlier Friday that “there are approximately 500 American citizens we are currently working with who want to leave and with whom we are communicating directly to facilitate their evacuations.”
President Biden has had said the U.S. would strike back after Thursday’s bombing, saying “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement earlier Friday that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had been warned by their national security team that “another terror attack in Kabul is likely.”
The crowds at the airport hoping to board a flight out of the country “appeared as large as ever” Friday morning, according to the AP.
People continued to amass at the perimeter around the Kabul airport despite the ongoing threat posed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, Charlotte Bellis, a journalist with Al-Jazeera, told NPR’s Morning Edition.
“Those that are around the perimeter say, ‘We know there could be attacks today also but still come because it’s a risk we’re willing to take,’ ” she said.