U.S. military members killed in Kabul airport bombing, Pentagon says

U.S. navy service members had been among the many folks killed within the terrorist bombing at Kabul’s airport on Thursday simply days earlier than President Biden’s deadline for a closing withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Extra particulars, equivalent to the precise variety of casualties, weren’t instantly out there. Marines have been offering safety on the airport and serving to to facilitate the evacuation of People and Afghan allies.

Biden spent the morning being briefed by nationwide safety officers, together with commanders on the bottom within the nation.

No group has but claimed duty for 2 bombings, which occurred at an airport gate and within the neighborhood of a close-by lodge that has been a staging floor for folks awaiting evacuation. Nonetheless, suspicions have targeted on the Islamic State in Khorasan, also referred to as ISIS-Okay, a neighborhood affiliate of the Iraq- and Syria-based terrorist group.

Biden has not but commented publicly. The casualties mark the primary U.S. navy deaths in about 18 months.
“We are able to affirm that a variety of U.S. service members had been killed in at the moment’s complicated assault at Kabul airport,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby mentioned in a press release. “A lot of others are being handled for wounds. We additionally know that a variety of Afghans fell sufferer to this heinous assault.”

The assault reshaped the White Home schedule on Thursday. An Oval Workplace assembly with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was delayed till Friday; a public well being briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic was postponed; and a digital convention with governors to speak about resettling Afghan refugees was canceled.

It’s unclear how the assault may alter Biden’s timeline for fully withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31. There are nonetheless an estimated 1,500 Americans within the nation, plus hundreds of Afghan allies who can be prone to Taliban reprisals if they continue to be behind.

People in Kabul have been buffeted by safety warnings from the State Division. On Wednesday night time, they had been informed to “go away instantly” from three airport gates. After the assault, one other message mentioned to “keep away from touring to the airport and keep away from airport gates right now.”

In response to the White Home, the U.S. has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of almost 100,000 folks since Aug. 14, when the Taliban approached Kabul after quickly capturing provincial capitals throughout the nation.

On Aug. 20, Biden mentioned his administration has “made clear to the Taliban” that any assault or disruption of evacuation operations would “be met with a swift and forceful response.”

Nonetheless, it seems probably that the bombings had been carried out not by the Taliban, however ISIS-Okay. The group is hostile to each the U.S. and the Taliban, which it views as insufficiently extremist. The Okay stands for Khorasan, the title of an historical province that encompassed elements of modern-day Afghanistan.

Biden has repeatedly warned about the specter of a attainable assault by the Islamic State affiliate assault through the evacuation.

“Daily we’re on the bottom is one other day we all know that ISIS-Okay is searching for to focus on the airport and assault each U.S. and allied forces and harmless civilians,” he mentioned Tuesday.

The group has been wanting to embarrass the Taliban by revealing its incapacity to control and preserve safety. It beforehand claimed duty for bombing a lady’s college in Kabul, killing dozens of scholars.

ISIS-Okay is just one a part of an advanced and risky atmosphere in Afghanistan. The Taliban by no means fully severed its ties with Al Qaeda, the terrorist group accountable for the Sept. 11 assaults twenty years in the past.

“To today, the Taliban is not going to forswear it, is not going to break it, is not going to surrender it, is not going to do something to even acknowledge it,” mentioned Thomas Joscelyn, a terrorism knowledgeable on the conservative Basis for the Protection of Democracies in Washington. “But many within the U.S. institution are credulous relating to the Taliban counterterrorism assurances.”

On Capitol Hill, members of Congress acknowledged {that a} bombing was amongst their largest fears with the chaotic withdrawal.

Republicans largely positioned the blame on Biden’s dealing with on the evacuations, with some members calling for resignations even earlier than the main points of the assault had been identified. Democrats largely targeted on the necessity to resume evacuations as rapidly as attainable.

“As we anticipate extra particulars to return in, one factor is obvious: We are able to’t belief the Taliban with People’ safety,” Senate International Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) mentioned in a press release. “It is a full-fledged humanitarian disaster, and the U.S. authorities personnel, already working beneath excessive circumstances, should safe the airport and full the large evacuation of People residents and susceptible Afghans desperately attempting to depart the nation.”

Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Navy cryptologist who served in each Iraq and Afghanistan, mentioned on Twitter that Biden’s “shameful dealing with” of the withdrawal from Afghanistan “has now led to U.S. personnel being wounded in a terrorist assault” in Kabul.

“My largest concern is these assaults at the moment are only the start of what we are going to proceed to see because the Administration fails to get People and our Afghan allies out and to security,” Gonzales mentioned. “We don’t want statements from the Administration proper now — we want instant resignations.”

Former President Trump’s administration sidelined the Afghan authorities final yr and reduce a cope with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from the nation by Could 1. Biden shifted the deadline to Sept. 11 — revising the goal to Aug. 31 over the summer season — however has been adamant about ending the U.S. navy presence there.

Biden mentioned earlier this week that he was asking the Pentagon and State Division for contingency plans if extra time was wanted to finish evacuations.

Instances workers writers Eli Stokols and Sarah D. Wire contributed to this report.

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