WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The United States embassy in Afghanistan is warning Americans to leave several gates at the airport in Kabul just hours after the U.S. bombed an Islamic State target.
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or the New Ministry of Interior gate now should leave immediately,” the alert reads.
The U.S. military struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday, bombing an IS member in Afghanistan less than 48 hours after a devastating suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members at the Kabul airport.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday, ‘This strike was not the last,’ following Thursday’s airstrike. Biden said the country 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,” he added.
Biden and other defense officials have said multiple times since the attack other credible threats were on the administration’s radar. This is at least the second time the embassy has warned Americans to evacuate.
U.S. Central Command said the U.S. conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State member in Nangahar believed to be involved in planning attacks against the U.S. in Kabul. The strike killed one individual, and spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said they knew of no civilian casualties.
It wasn’t clear if that individual was involved specifically in the Thursday suicide blast outside the gates of the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans were desperately trying to get in as part of the ongoing evacuation from the country after the Taliban’s rapid takeover.
“It’s significant. It’s bold, and it’s it’s lightning fast,” Ret. Lt. Gen. Richard Newton said on NewsNation Prime.
The airstrike fulfilled a vow Biden made to the nation Thursday when he said the perpetrators of the attack would not be able to hide. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said. Pentagon leaders told reporters Friday that they were prepared for whatever retaliatory action the president ordered.
“We have options there right now,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
The U.S. has until Tuesday to complete its withdrawal under the terms they and the Taliban have agreed to, although there is a bipartisan chorus in Washington calling on Biden to consider staying longer to get more people out of the country.
Newton said the U.S. had to be ready and keep an eye on the airport in the wake of the attack.
“This is about [showing] everything that American military power is capable of doing and we have followed through with that,” he said on NewsNation Prime.
As of Friday morning, about 12,500 people were airlifted from the Kabul airport in the preceding 24 hours.
Read Biden’s full statement.
This morning, I met with my national security team in Washington and my commanders in the field. We discussed the strike that U.S. forces took last night against the terrorist group ISIS-K in Afghanistan. I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have. This strike was not the last. 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. That will never be in doubt. I thanked General McKenzie for his leadership of that mission, and for his commitment to the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.
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. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground. They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel.
Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians. Yesterday, we brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans. And today, we discussed the ongoing preparations to help people continue to leave Afghanistan after our military departs.
The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others. Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far. May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days.President Joe Biden
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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