Saturday, December 4

Two “high-profile” ISIS targets killed in drone strike


(CNN) — Another terrorist attack at the Kabul airport is “very likely in the next 24 to 36 hours,” President Joe Biden said after being informed by commanders.

The president’s statement Saturday afternoon came hours after the Pentagon said two “high-profile” ISIS targets were killed and another wounded in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, a retaliatory move after the Terrorist attack that killed 13 US service members and at least 170 others near the airport on Thursday.

“This attack will not be the last,” Biden said in his statement, promising to “go after anyone involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.”

“The situation on the ground remains extremely dangerous and the threat of terrorist attacks at the airport remains high,” Biden noted, adding that he has asked commanders to “take all possible measures to prioritize the protection of the force.” .

The Pentagon addressed the drone strike earlier in the day.

“I can confirm, more information has come in, that two high-profile ISIS targets were killed and one injured. And we know of zero civilian casualties,” Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Regional Operations, said at a conference on press on Saturday. “Without specifying any future plans, I will say that we will continue to have the capacity to defend ourselves and we will take advantage of the capacity on the horizon to carry out counterterrorism operations as necessary.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said all the targets were hit in a single strike and that they were “ISIS-K planners and enablers.”

A United States defense official told CNN early Saturday that one of the individuals was believed to be “associated with possible future attacks at the airport.” The United States located him and “had enough eyes and knowledge” to attack, the official said, adding that “it was a known entity” but that the United States does not call it a “senior” ISIS-K operative.

The individual was in a compound in the Jalalabad area, another defense official told CNN, and intelligence information was reinforced after the terrorist attack in Kabul to justify the attack. The source said surveillance continued at the compound until the target’s wife and children left before the United States carried out the drone strike.

“I’m not going to talk about specific ISIS capabilities that they may have lost in this attack. They lost a planner and they lost a facilitator. And they have one wounded. The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking the face of the Earth. it’s a good thing, “Kirby said Saturday.

What will the international community do for Afghanistan? 1:34

“It’s a good thing for the people of Afghanistan, it’s a good thing for our troops and our forces at that airfield.”

The announcement of the attack came a day after President Joe Biden promised to retaliate for the terrorist attack in Kabul, even as he said he would continue the frantic mission to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan. Biden approved of the attack on the ISIS-K planner, according to an official familiar with the matter.

“We will not forget. We will hunt them down and make them pay,” the president said in remarks from the White House on Thursday.

The United States, Biden said, “will respond with force and precision to our time, in the place we choose and in the way we choose. Here’s what they need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win.”

An Afghan journalist who visited the site of the drone attack said it destroyed a house near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Photos shared with CNN by the journalist show a small vehicle in the complex badly damaged, as well as what appears to be extensive shrapnel damage in the immediate vicinity.

According to the inhabitants of the area of ​​the attack, at least three people died and several more were injured.

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has claimed that an ISIS militant carried out the suicide attack on Thursday, but did not provide evidence to support the claim. US officials have said the group was likely behind the bombing.

ISIS-K: its deadly actions speak for themselves 3:30

Last days of evacuation

Biden and his team are now preparing for the possibility of another terrorist attack during the final days of the evacuation operation. The US embassy in Kabul on Friday advised US citizens at various airport gates to “leave immediately,” citing security threats, and Kirby announced on Saturday that the US military began to leave the airport, but confirmed that the August 31 exit deadline was still in place.

“Make no mistake, no one is dismissing this and saying, ‘Well, we have them, so we don’t have to worry about ISIS-K anymore.’ It is not the case. As I said before, the threat flow is still active, it is still dynamic. We are still focused on that and protecting the force, “Kirby said Saturday.

“But do we think we hit valid targets, bad guys who can do bad things and plan missions? Absolutely. Do we think they will have any impact on their ability in the future? Absolutely.”

There are about 350 Americans still seeking to leave Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said on Saturday. These individuals are currently the only Americans the State Department can confirm are still in the country and seeking to leave, the department says, and it believes some of them are almost out or already out of Afghanistan.

The department also says it has contacted approximately 280 additional people who self-identified as Americans but who have not told the department of their plans to leave the country, or who have said that they do not intend to leave at all.

Nearly 300 Americans have been evacuated in the last day, the State Department said, and about 5,400 Americans have been evacuated since Aug. 14, the Defense Department said early Saturday.

About 6,800 people were evacuated on US and coalition flights from 3:00 a.m. (Miami time) Friday to 3:00 a.m. Saturday, a White House official said Saturday morning. The latest figures are notably smaller than in recent days, something the White House has said should be expected in the final days of the mission.

Overall, the United States has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of about 111,900 people since Aug. 14, according to the White House official.

A source directly familiar with the situation at the airport said only essential US diplomatic personnel would remain to process evacuations after the bulk are expected to depart in the next 24 hours. The source added that it was unclear whether the evacuation of the local embassy employees had ended, but that hundreds more were reported to have arrived at the airport and “hundreds more have left for makeshift locations.”

CNN’s Michael Conte, Jamie Crawford, Tim Lister, Sandi Sidhu, Oren Liebermann, Nick Paton Walsh, Arlette Saenz, Jason Hoffman and Sonnet Swire contributed to this report.


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