On Saturday, President Joe Biden warned that a new attack on the airport in Kabul is “highly likely” and has promised to issue a second retaliation strike against the terrorists responsible the suicide bombing on Thursday.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” said Biden in his official statement. “Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.”
On Saturday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul made a statement that all Americans in the airport’s vicinity should leave the area as soon as possible.
The United States embassy referred to a “specific, credible threat,” and communicated in an official statement that, “U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time.”
The following areas were highlighted for immediate evacuation: the south gate of the airport, the Interior of the New Ministry, and the gate nearest to the Panjshir Petrol station, located on the airport’s northwest side.
The U.S. armed forces are rushing to evacuate the remaining Afghan allies and Americans attempting to flee the Taliban before the deadline on Tuesday, working to complete a full military withdrawal by then. While as many as 350 Americans still remain in Afghanistan who wish to leave, there are thousands of Afghan allies who worked to help the U.S. over the past 20 years who are still trying to escape the country as well.
An attack on a crowded checkpoint by a suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport on Thursday killed at least 13 U.S. military staff and more than 110 escaping Afghans. U.S. military forces retaliated with a drone strike on Friday against the perpetrators, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, ISIS-K. The terrorist group is better known as ISIS, having claimed credit for the recent suicide bombing.
“This strike was not the last,” Biden said in a follow up statement. “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,” Biden continued.
John Kirby, press secretary of the Pentagon, declined to make a statement on Saturday whether the ISIS members eliminated in Friday’s drone strike were directly involved in the recent attack on the Kabul airport.
“They were ISIS-K planners and facilitators. That’s enough reason there alone,” Kirby said in a statement to reporters. “I won’t speak to the details of these individuals or what their specific roles might be.”
Kirby also stated that some military personnel were already leaving Afghanistan before the withdrawal on August 31st. The lessening number of ground troops will likely lead to a slower evacuation.
Biden has said that U.S. military personnel are continuing to evacuate civilians “despite the treacherous situation in Kabul” and he is working in tandem with national security teams to “help people continue to leave Afghanistan after [the] military departs.”