US President Joe Biden warned on Saturday that another attack around Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital Kabul within the next 24 to 36 hours – with the countdown looming for US withdrawal – is “highly likely.”
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden directed all US commanders to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authority, resources, and plans to protect people on the ground, it said.
After meeting with his national security team in Washington and commanders in the field, Biden said they discussed the US’ Friday strike in Afghanistan against the terrorist group ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility for Thursday’s deadly attack around the airport.
Stressing that they would go after the group responsible for the attack on US troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, he said: “We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond.”
“Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians,” Biden said, adding that yesterday they brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans.
Biden and his team also discussed ongoing preparations to help people continue to leave Afghanistan after the US military departs, with the Taliban’s Tuesday deadline for withdrawal looming.
Deadly blasts outside the Kabul airport Thursday killed at least 170 people, including 13 US soldiers, and wounded dozens of others.
Daesh/ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to a statement by the group.
The Taliban, which took over the Afghan capital on Aug. 15, have set a deadline of next Tuesday, Aug. 31, for foreign forces to leave the country.