Pentagon press secretary John Kirby (right) speaks as Army Major William “Hank” Taylor watches during a briefing at the Pentagon on Saturday. Susan Walsh / AP Hide caption
Susan Walsh / AP
Susan Walsh / AP
In retaliation for the attack on Kabul airport, two targets were killed and another person injured in a drone attack against ISIS-K, the Pentagon said.
Defense ministry officials announced Friday night that an IS-K target was killed in a drone attack in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. On Saturday, officials updated this with the statement that two “high-level” targets – described as “planners and facilitators” – were killed and one other person from the terrorist group was injured in the retaliatory attack.
Pentagon officials on Saturday offered more information about the continued operations in Afghanistan, including the evacuation effort and the drone strike.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the names of the drone targets would not be released.
“The fact that two of these people are no longer walking on Earth is a good thing,” Kirby said of the drone attack. “It’s good for the people of Afghanistan and it’s good for our troops and our troops at this airfield.”
US officials said threats continue at Kabul airport following Thursday’s bombing that killed nearly 200 people, including 13 US soldiers. This incident has already intensified hectic operations to evacuate Afghans and withdraw US troops before President Biden’s August 31 deadline.
“We’ll complete this mission by the end of the month, and we said so,” said Kirby. “Nothing has changed in the schedule for us and we will do this as safely and orderly as possible – and that includes being able to continue evacuating until the end.”
Kirby also said the threats at Kabul airport remain “active and dynamic” and that the US stands ready to respond in the event of another attack.
“We will retain the ability to defend ourselves and our operations at all times,” he said.
General William “Hank” Taylor said that more than 117,000 people – including around 5,400 American citizens – have been flown out of Afghanistan as part of the evacuation effort. He said 6,800 evacuees were flown out of Afghanistan on Friday and 1,400 people were “searched and manifested for flights” on Saturday.
“This is a massive military, diplomatic, security and humanitarian endeavor for the United States and our allies,” said Taylor.
He said the US is currently hosting about 8,000 “Afghan applicants” at military bases, including Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Lee, Virginia, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. While the capacity of these military facilities is currently more than 21,000, officials are working to increase that number to 50,000 by September 15, according to Taylor.
“We mourn with the Gold Star families, friends and loved ones of the fallen. They will be remembered and revered among Americans who served in Afghanistan in Operations Freedom, Sentinel and Enduring Freedom,” said Taylor.