The US conducts an air strike on Afghanistan as evacuation efforts hit the ultimate straight

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has alleged that an ISIS fighter committed the suicide attack on an airport gate on Thursday, but did not provide any evidence to support the claim. US officials said the group was likely behind the bombing.

Biden approved the strike against the ISIS-K planner, according to an official familiar with the matter.

“The US armed forces today carried out a beyond the horizon anti-terrorist operation against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned air strike occurred in the Afghan province of Nangarhar,” said spokesman Capt. Bill Urban on Friday. “Initial evidence suggests that we killed the target. We are not aware of any civilian casualties.”

The identity of the person targeted in the US air strike has not yet been confirmed.

The US embassy in Kabul on Friday again warned US citizens “to leave immediately” at a number of gates at Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing security threats.

The warning advised US citizens “avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates”.

Flights were seen on Saturday but it was unclear how many people were allowed to enter the airport.

An eyewitness told CNN that he saw Taliban members firing shots in the air outside the main gate of Kabul airport on Saturday morning to disperse the crowds who had gathered to flee Afghanistan.

Far fewer people were at the airport on Friday, and a source directly familiar with Kabul airport operations told CNN the remaining focus is getting people with special, short-term access requests to the airport. However, the source warned the officials were “unsure how many they can get in with so much coordination from the Taliban”.

Thousands more flown out

Following the attack on Thursday, the Biden National Security Team informed him on Friday that “another terrorist attack is likely in Kabul but that they are taking maximum protective measures at Kabul airport,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous time yet,” Psaki said in a statement on Friday.

The U.S. and other Western countries have tried to recruit their citizens and Afghan allies before the Jan.

The Pentagon said the US is still planning to end this mission by the end of the month, marking a final exit from a 20-year war in Afghanistan.

According to the White House, the United States has evacuated around 109,200 people and facilitated the evacuation since August 14.

About 4,200 people were evacuated from Kabul on Friday between 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET, according to the White House. The evacuations were carried out by 12 US military flights with approx. 2,100 evacuees and 29 coalition flights with approx. 2,100 people.

Around 7,500 people had been evacuated from Kabul in the same 12-hour period the day before.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that “we are currently working with approximately 500 American citizens planning to leave and with whom we are communicating directly to facilitate their evacuation.”

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia on Friday after being evacuated from Kabul after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

US allies complete evacuations

UK Armed Forces chief Gen Nick Carter said UK efforts to evacuate Afghan civilians from the country would end on Saturday, followed by the withdrawal of remaining British forces.

“It went as well as it could under the circumstances … but we couldn’t get them all out and that was heartbreaking and there were some very challenging judgments to be made on the spot,” he told BBC Radio 4.

The number of people left behind who could be brought to the UK was in the “high hundreds,” he said.

Opposition Labor Party defense spokesman John Healey told Sky News that while Britain has brought more than 14,000 people out of the country, “there are probably 1,000 Afghans who have worked with us for over two decades in Afghanistan, our troops have helped, our helpers, our diplomats, whom we promised to protect, but we leave behind. ”

Healey called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene to give hope of salvation to the Afghans left behind.

France announced the end of its evacuation efforts on Friday, but promised in a statement by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Army Minister Florence Parly to “stand by the Afghan people” after August 31.

The country has evacuated nearly 3,000 people since August 15, the statement said. Another 1,500 Afghans who had worked for France were evacuated before August 15 in anticipation of the current crisis, it said.

The Italian Ministry of Defense said Friday that it had completed its military evacuations of Afghan nationals from Kabul.

The last flight took off on Friday evening with 58 Afghan citizens, with the rest on board Italian soldiers involved in the evacuation, the ministry said. A total of 5,011 people have been evacuated since June, of whom 4,980 are Afghan citizens, including 1,301 women and 1,453 children, it said.

Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Spain all indicated that their evacuation missions ended or should end on Friday.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization announced on Friday that it would, with the help of the Pakistani authorities, set up an airlift to the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan in the coming days.

CNN’s Ivana Kottasova, Jeremy Diamond, Kate Sullivan, Kaitlan Collins, Sandi Sidhu, Saskya Vandoorne, Hada Messia and Duarte Mendonca contributed to this report.

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