"This is the most hazardous time in an already extraordinarily risky mission these past couple of days," America’s top diplomat, Secretary Antony Blinken said shortly before confirmation of the airstrike in Kabul's capital.
The Americans continued to evacuate the area, even though a new State Department security alert issued hours before the military action instructed them to leave immediately "due to an immediate, specific, credible threat."
Jake Sullivan, Biden's national-security adviser, stated that for Americans who want to leave Afghanistan immediately, there is a capacity to have 300 Americans. This is approximately the number of Americans we believe are left. Yesterday, we moved more than that amount. According to our view, Americans have the opportunity to travel to the United States right now, and be allowed to fly to the airport.
Sullivan stated that the U.S. doesn't plan to maintain an embassy presence following the withdrawal of all U.S. troops. He said that the U.S. would ensure safe passage for all Americans, legal permanent residents, and "those Afghans who have helped us" on Tuesday. But many vulnerable Afghans are fearful of being relegated to their homeland.
Blinken stated that the U.S. is working with other countries to keep Kabul's airport open after Tuesday, or to reopen the airport "in a timely manner."
He said that although the airport is crucial, there are "other ways to leave Afghanistan", including by road.
Another 280 people have also claimed to be Americans, but have informed the State Department that they intend to stay in the country. The latest figures show that approximately 114,000 people were evacuated following the Taliban takeover on August 14. This includes around 2,900 civilians and military personnel who flew on coalition and military flights in the 24 hours ending Sunday at 3 a.m.
Representatives of Congress condemned the violent and chaotic evacuation.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) stated that "We didn’t have to be trapped in this rush-rush situation with terrorists breathing down on our necks." "But it's really our responsibility and that of the previous administration and that of this administration that caused this crisis to be upon and has led us to what is unquestionably a humanitarian-and foreign policy tragedy."
U.S. officials claimed that the American drone strike struck a vehicle carrying several suicide bombers from Islamic State. Secondary explosions were caused by secondary explosions, which indicate the presence of significant explosive material. According to a senior U.S. official, the military drone launched a Hellfire missile at the vehicle located in a compound that was between two buildings. This occurred after several individuals had been seen loading explosives into the trunk.
Officials stated that there was an initial explosion from the missile followed by a larger fireball. This is believed to have been caused by the large amount of explosives in the vehicle. Two members of the Islamic State group were believed to have been killed by the missile. U.S. Central Command stated that it is investigating reports of civilian casualties possibly caused by secondary explosions. According to an Afghan official, three children died in the attack. They spoke under anonymity to discuss military operations.
This was the second U.S. airstrike against the militant group in recent days. It killed 13 U.S. personnel and injured scores of Afghans trying to flee the Taliban-ruled country. In retaliation to the bombing at Kabul airport, two members of IS' Afghanistan affiliate were killed in a U.S. drone strike.
Biden met with the families of American soldiers killed in the suicide attack and watched as the remains returned from Afghanistan to the United States. Jill Biden, the first lady, and many top U.S. military and defense leaders joined him at Dover Air Force Base as he reflected on the "dignified" transfer of remains. This is a military ritual that honors those who have been killed in combat.
Sullivan stated earlier that the U.S. would continue its strikes against IS and look into "other operations to go after them, to get them off the battlefield."
The U.S. and 100 other countries made a joint statement stating that they will ensure that Afghans, their employees, and all others who are at risk, can travel from Afghanistan freely. According to the statement, the Taliban assured that all foreign nationals and Afghan citizens with travel authorizations from their countries would be allowed to travel in safety and order to destinations outside Afghanistan.
These 13 soldiers were the first U.S. troops to be killed in Afghanistan since February 2020. This was the month that the Trump administration reached an agreement with Taliban. The Taliban agreed to stop attacking Americans in return for the U.S. agreeing to withdraw all troops and contractors from Afghanistan by May 2021. Biden declared in April that the remaining 2,500-3,000 troops would be gone by September, ending what he called America's "forever war".
The Pentagon approved the deployment of thousands more troops to Kabul to assist the State Department's chaotic efforts to evacuate thousands of Americans as well as tens of thousand of Afghans who helped the United States in the war. The chaos and confusion that followed the evacuation were caused by the sudden collapse of the Afghan army and the election of the Taliban to power on Aug. 15.
As the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan begins to get more intense, the White House has changed Biden's meeting scheduled with Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zilenskyy from Monday to Wednesday.
Sullivan was featured on CBS' Face the Nation, CNN's State of the Union and Fox News Sunday. McConnell was also on Fox. Romney was on CNN.