The United States begins to withdraw its troops from Kabul; strikes Islamic state with drone attack
- Biden says another airport attack is very likely
- Drone strike in Pakistan border province
- Jalalabad city residents say they heard explosions at night
- U.S. Embassy Says People Should Leave Airport Gates Immediately
- Around 111,000 people evacuated
Aug.28 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden warned on Saturday that another militant attack was very likely as US troops began their withdrawal from Kabul airport after a two-week rush by Washington and its allies to evacuate citizens and Afghans at risk.
As Washington neared the end of its military involvement in the country with Taliban militants it ousted from power 20 years ago, the United States said it killed two Islamic State militants plotting attacks in Afghanistan after a deadly suicide bombing outside the airport on Thursday. .
US officials have also warned of a high risk of further attacks from the group – enemies of both the West and the new Afghan Taliban leadership – as US forces complete their mission before the deadline set. by Biden Tuesday.
The US president said military commanders told him an attack was very likely within the next 24 to 36 hours. He said the situation on the ground remained “extremely dangerous”.
After Thursday’s explosion that killed dozens of Afghans and 13 US soldiers, the deadliest incident for the US military in Afghanistan in a decade, Biden has vowed to track down the perpetrators. He said Friday’s strike was not the last.
“We will continue to hunt down anyone involved in this heinous attack and make them pay,” he said.
The Taliban condemned the overnight US drone strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, an eastern region bordering Pakistan.
“The Americans should have informed us before carrying out the airstrike, it was a clear attack on Afghan territory,” a Taliban spokesman told Reuters, adding that two women and a child had been injured in the attack.
The Taliban said they had arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said that the Taliban would take control of the airport “very soon” after the withdrawal of US forces and announce a full cabinet in the coming days.
The West-backed government and the Afghan army collapsed when die-hard Islamist militants entered the capital on August 15, leaving an administrative vacuum that heightened fears of a financial collapse and famine generalized.
Mujahid told Reuters the group had appointed governors and police chiefs in all but one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and would act to resolve the country’s economic problems.
A US official told Reuters on Saturday that fewer than 4,000 troops remained at the airport, compared to 5,800 at the height of the evacuation mission. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby later confirmed to reporters that the pullout had started, but declined to say how many military personnel remained. Read more
Thursday’s suicide bombing, claimed by (ISIS-K), the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, caused a bloodbath outside the gates of the airport – where thousands of Afghans gathered to try to get a flight since the Taliban returned to power.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 overthrew the then-ruling Taliban as punishment for harboring al-Qaeda militants behind that year’s 9/11 attacks. .
The Taliban, facing the loss of billions of dollars in aid to the country, called on the United States and other Western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after their withdrawal; Britain has said this should only happen if the Taliban allow safe passage for those who want to leave and respect human rights.
DANGEROUS LAST DAYS
The White House has said the next few days will likely be the most dangerous of the evacuation operation. The United States and its allies have removed an estimated 111,900 people from Afghanistan in the past two weeks, the Pentagon said.
With another attack on Kabul airport almost certain, according to US officials, the US embassy in Kabul has warned Americans to avoid the airport.
The last British flight to evacuate civilians from Afghanistan left Kabul on Saturday. British troops would take a small number of Afghan citizens with them when they left this weekend, a Defense Ministry spokesperson said. Armed Forces Chief Nick Carter said hundreds of people who had worked with Britain would not be successful.
During the Pentagon strike on suspected militants in Nangarhar, a US official said on Friday that an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned plane from the Middle East was targeting an Islamic State activist who was planning attacks and was located in a car with an associate.
Residents of Jalalabad, the provincial capital, said they heard several explosions around midnight and community leader Malik Adib said three people were killed and four others injured in an airstrike, adding that he had been summoned by the Taliban investigating the incident.
“Women and children are among the victims,” Adib said, although he has no information on their identities.
The US military said in a statement that it was not aware of any civilian casualties.
While Kabul airport has been in chaos, the rest of the city has been generally quiet. The Taliban have called on residents to hand over government equipment, including weapons and vehicles, within a week, the group spokesman said.
The airport attack fueled criticism Biden faced at home and abroad for the chaos following the collapse of the Afghan government and military ahead of a lightning Taliban advance. He defended his rulings, saying the United States had long reached its justification for the invasion in 2001.
Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Robert Birsel, Philippa Fletcher and Doina Chiacu; Editing by William Mallard, Gerry Doyle, Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis
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