The White House released a statement by Joe Biden on Saturday about Afghanistan, warning of more U.S. strikes on ISIS-K while also saying that another terror attack is expected on the Kabul airport in the next 24-36 hours.
The U.S. launched a drone strike Friday night that reportedly killed two ISIS-K terrorists in Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan in response to the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport Thursday that killed 13 U.S. service members and about 170 Afghans.
Unverified photos purporting to show the aftermath of the U.S. drone strike.
A US drone has struck a house in eastern #Nangarhar province Qala-e-Naghrak 7th District, last night 12:00AM.
The U.S. military says a key member of the Islamic State group has been killed in an airstrike who was mastermind of the #Kabulairport attack. pic.twitter.com/LGUNSf7b18
— Aśvaka – آسواکا News Agency (@AsvakaNews) August 28, 2021
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Politico reported Saturday Biden has told the Pentagon the military has his permission to launch attacks against ISIS without prior clearance from the White House.
…Joe Biden has given the Pentagon the “green light” to strike any targets affiliated with the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, the group responsible for the attack, without seeking White House approval, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of the operation.
Senior Pentagon leaders already had this authority, but Biden reaffirmed it in instructions to the military on Friday, one of the officials said.
The president’s “guidance is to just do it,” the person said. “If we find more, we will strike them.”
Voice of America video showed ongoing chaos at the Harmid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Saturday.
People fled from the sound of gunfire Saturday near the main gate to Kabul airport as Taliban forces shot into the air in an attempt to disperse people desperate to flee the country.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) August 28, 2021
Reuters reported Saturday that U.S. troop strength is below 4,000, down from 5,800, as the Pentagon works to meet Biden’s deadline for a complete withdrawal by Tuesday.
The British Ambassador to Afghanistan announced the shut down of the U.K.’s operations at the airport on Saturday.
Nearly 15,000 British nationals, Afghan staff and others at risk have been evacuated from Kabul since Operation Pitting began – our commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure. pic.twitter.com/zUQ52ps1cE
— Laurie Bristow (@laurie_bristow) August 28, 2021
This morning, I met with my national security team in Washington and my commanders in the field. We discussed the strike that U.S. forces took last night against the terrorist group ISIS-K in Afghanistan. I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have. This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt. I thanked General McKenzie for his leadership of that mission, and for his commitment to the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.
The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground. They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel.
Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians. Yesterday, we brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans. And today, we discussed the ongoing preparations to help people continue to leave Afghanistan after our military departs.
The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others. Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far. May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days.