As the death toll from suicide bombings at Kabul airport climbed to 85, US President Joe Biden directed American military commanders to prepare operational plans to target ISIS-Khorasan assets, leadership, and facilities.
Witnesses claimed two explosions and gunshots shook the area outside the airport on Thursday evening. Hundreds of bodies were scattered along a canal on the outskirts of the airport, according to videos taken by Afghan journalists.
According to a health official and a Taliban spokesman, the number of Afghans dead has climbed to 72, with 28 Taliban members among them. Thirteen US military personnel were killed, according to the US military.
ISIS-Khorasan, claimed responsibility. One of ISIS’ suicide bombers was claimed to have targeted “translators and collaborators with the American army,” according to ISIS, which is an enemy of both the Taliban and the West.
Officials from the United States also accused the organization and vowed retaliation.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” said Biden while addressing his nation from the White House soon after the attack.
President Biden mourned the U.S. service members and Afghans killed in the attacks at the Kabul airport on Thursday and addressed those responsible: “We will hunt you down and make you pay.” https://t.co/YXINpuW0qb pic.twitter.com/B8b7vvRhi3
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 27, 2021
“We will respond with force and precision, at our time, at the place we choose, and at the moment of our choosing,” he said.
“I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”
Biden also indicated that he could send more military assistance to Afghanistan if he felt the need for it. “I’ve instructed the military (to act) with whatever they need. If they need additional force, I will grant it,” he said.
The attacks, he added, have only reinforced the US military’s resolve to complete its mission.
Biden said that the service members who lost their lives in Kabul on Thursday were “heroes” and “the best the country has to offer”.
“The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others, in the service of America,” he said.
He also defended his decision to rely on the Taliban for security outside of Kabul’s airport.
“We are counting on them to act in their own self-interest,” he said. “And it’s in their interest that we leave when we said we would. There is no evidence thus far from our commanders in the field that there has been collusion between Taliban and ISIS.”