Biden says another attack on Kabul airport is ‘very likely’

US military commanders believe another terrorist attack such as the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport is “highly likely within the next 24 to 36 hours,” President Joe Biden warned Saturday.

After a briefing from his national security team, Biden said in a statement that a US drone attack on the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) group, which claimed responsibility for Thursday’s carnage at the airport , “was not the last”.

“The situation on the ground remains extremely dangerous and the threat of terrorist attacks at the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely to occur within the next 24 to 36 hours,” Biden said.

Dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in the Kabul airport bombing on Thursday, along with 13 US soldiers, several of them born around the time US military operations began in Afghanistan 20 years ago.

Earlier Saturday, the Pentagon said it had killed two “high-profile” targets, logistics experts from the jihadist group, and wounded another in a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.

No civilians were injured in the attack, Major General Hank Taylor told a news conference in Washington.

“The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking the face of the Earth is a good thing,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

US troops have been fighting in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a mass evacuation operation from Kabul airport before the August 31 deadline.

Biden has vowed to stick to the agreed limit and has vowed to punish those responsible for the suicide bombing. He said Saturday that the drone strike would not be the last.

“We will continue to pursue anyone involved in that heinous attack and we will make them pay,” he said. “Whenever someone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt.”

Taliban closes Kabul airport to most Afghans

With the airlift window narrowing dramatically ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, Taliban forces closed Kabul airport on Saturday to most Afghans awaiting an evacuation, while the United States and its allies closed a chaotic airlift that will put end to the two decades of his troops in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban poised to take command when the last American plane leaves, discussions have begun about resuming normal flight operations.

Turkish officials have held initial talks with the Taliban in Kabul to help get the airport back up and running.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Taliban offer was to oversee security at the airport, while Ankara runs logistics operations.

France, Britain and many Western allies have announced an end to their airlifts, with some admitting that at-risk Afghans eligible for evacuation had been left behind.

The UN said it was preparing for the “worst-case scenario” of up to half a million more refugees from Afghanistan by the end of 2021.

( Jowharwith AFP and AP)

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