Under threat of additional attacks, US forces maintain Kabul airlift

American forces under increased security and threat of another attack continued to evacuate Kabul's Airport Friday. This was the day after the suicide bombing that claimed the lives of dozens. It marked the end of the United States' war in Afghanistan.

Under threat of additional attacks, US forces maintain Kabul airlift

The death toll rose from 169 Afghans to 13 U.S. military personnel, which could rise as authorities examine fragmented remains. This makes Thursday's attack one of the most deadly since U.S.-led forces entered Afghanistan almost 20 years ago.

The Pentagon and White House warned that there could be more bloodshed before President Joe Biden's rapidly approaching deadline Tuesday to end the American airlift and withdraw American troops. Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated that the next few days would be "our most dangerous period to-date" in the evacuation.

Thursday's bombing -- blamed on Afghanistan's offshoot of the Islamic State group, an enemy of both the Taliban and the West -- marked one of the most lethal terror attacks the country has seen. It was claimed by the U.S. that it was the most deadly day for American troops in Afghanistan since 2011.

Newly arrived Afghan evacuees stepped off evacuation flights around the globe, some with babies in their arms and few belongings inside plastic bags. Afghan families searched for their loved ones in Kabul, looking for them among the bodies that were placed on a hospital walkway to identify bombing victims. They pleaded for a place on U.S.-run airlifts.

As Friday's call to prayer echoed through the city, along with the roaring of departing aircrafts, anxious crowds poured into the airport hoping to escape Taliban rule. Despite the sight of bodies piled tightly together in the aftermath, they seemed as big as ever.

Afghans, Americans and foreigners all knew that the window was closing for them to escape via airlift.

Jamshad travelled to the airport along with his wife and their three children. He was holding an invitation to a Western nation that he did not want to identify.

"After the explosion, I decided to try. Jamshad said, "Because I am afraid there will be more attacks. And I think now it is time to leave." Jamshad uses one name, like many Afghans.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that only one suicide bomber was at the airport's gate, not two as initially stated by U.S. officials.

Officials who reported the death toll in Afghanistan were not allowed to speak to the media, and they spoke under the condition of anonymity.

The Afghan victims include a news agency founder and a variety of poor Afghans who went to the airport hoping for a better future.

Before the Pentagon released their names, details about the American dead -- 11 Marines and a Navy sailor, as well as an Army soldier -- began to emerge. One of them was a young Marine from Wyoming, who was about to embark on his first tour in Afghanistan.

Officials in Britain said that two citizens of the country and the child of another Briton were also among the victims of the explosion.

The Taliban set up a barrier at 500m (1,600ft) from the airport using a pickup truck with fighters and three captured Humvees. This kept the crowds further back than ever before from U.S. troops.

U.S. military officials stated that some gates had been closed and that additional security measures were in place. According to them, there are tighter restrictions at Taliban checkpoints. They also claim that there are fewer people near the gates. According to the military, it also requested that the Taliban close some roads due to the possibility of suicide bombers using vehicles.

The Pentagon acknowledged that the airport was already protected against rocket attacks. It stated that the U.S. would continue to fly manned and unmanned aircraft over the airport in surveillance and protection.

Officials from the United States said that evacuees who have proper documentation were still allowed to enter the gates. About 5,400 evacuees were waiting for flights.

Biden was briefed by U.S. commanders in Washington about their plans to strike back against the Islamic State. They also reaffirmed the president's promise to make the terrorists pay.

Biden called the U.S. effort in Afghanistan to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies most at risk from Taliban terrorists a "worthy mission."

He said, "And we will complete our mission."

U.N. Security Council deemed the targeting of civilians fleeing from danger and those who are trying to help them "particularly abhorrent."

Two decades ago, the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan from the United States. This was after they had been defeated in an invasion by the U.S. following 9/11. Their return to power has terrified many Afghans, who have rushed to flee the country ahead of the American withdrawal.

According to the U.S. more than 100,000 people were evacuated safely from Kabul's airport. However, thousands of others are still trying to flee in one the largest airlifts in history.

The White House announced Friday morning that 8500 evacuees were flown out on U.S. military aircraft over the past 24 hours. This was in addition to about 4,000 people who flew with coalition planes. This was roughly the same number as the day prior to the attack.

However, the odds of helping those who are trying to evacuate are diminishing fast. In part, the U.S. needed to allow more European allies and countries to suspend their airlifts Friday to make sure it could wrap up its operations.

Although the Taliban claim that they will allow Afghans to flee via commercial flight after the U.S. withdraws, it is not clear which airlines would fly back to an airport under the control of the militants.

Untold numbers of Afghans, especially ones who had worked with the U.S. and other Western countries, are now in hiding, fearing retaliation despite the group's offer of full amnesty.

In recent weeks, the new rulers sought to project a moderation image -- a stark contrast to their harsh rules from 1996 to 2001 when they banned girls from obtaining an education, prohibited television and music, and executed public officials.

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