13 U.S. service members died today, and at least 18 more were injured at the Abbey Gate of Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan in an apparent suicide bombing by radical jihadist terrorists. The tragedy marks the deadliest day in the war since 2011.
Amongst the dead are one Navy corpsman and 12 Marines.
The suicide attack was quickly followed by gunfire from other members of ISIS in a heated exchange between U.S. troops and the newly powerful Islamic State at the evacuation site where 5,000 Afghans and many Americans waited desperately for a chance at escape. Terrorists had issued multiple threats against the airport, particularly from ISIS, but Biden did nothing about it.
The Pentagon confirmed the news of the airport explosion, as well as the second attack that took place at the Baron Hotel, a location where many Americans are waiting for their chance at rescue and evacuation.
General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. of the Marine Corps said that they believed both suicide bombers to be ISIS members, and added that they believe more attacks are coming.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered condolences to the families of those dead and injured in the attacks but promised that the U.S. is not “dissuaded from the task at hand.”
President Biden spoke several hours after the attack, offering condolences to the families of the fallen but not promising any appreciable change in strategy.
It’s not clear at this time how critically injured the surviving troops are nor how many civilians were injured and killed, but it’s imagined to be many given the large and dense crowds of people gathered at the airport.
The last time this many U.S. troops fell in Afghanistan was when a Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in August of 2011, killing 31 soldiers.
The Taliban quickly spread throughout the country in anticipation of the U.S. withdrawal, placing America off guard and creating the evacuation crisis of tens of thousands through the Kabul airport. As of Thursday, approximately 104,000 evacuees have been transported to safety with an estimated 1,000 Americans left in the country.
5,200 U.S. troops remain at the airport guarding thousands of Afghan refugees at the tarmac with American planes leaving every 40 minutes from the airport.
President Biden is currently facing increased pressure from both international allies and U.S. pundits to push the withdrawal date but he has so far stuck to his pledge to the Taliban to hold the timeline.
Before Biden gave any response regarding the attacks of Thursday morning, former President Donald Trump issued a statement honoring the sacrifice of the soldiers who perished or were injured that morning. He added that the tragic event should never have been able to happen in the first place.
The State Department warned on Wednesday of the “very real possibility” that Islamic radicals might attack the airport.
Author: Robin Thornton