Biden promise to strike extremists faces new Afghan reality

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By ROBERT BURNS and LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — By promising to onslaught the extremists who killed 13 Americans and dozens of Afghans, President Joe Biden present confronts the world of uncovering and targeting them successful an unstable state without U.S. subject and quality teams connected the crushed and nary assistance from a affable authorities successful Kabul.

The president was warned Friday to expect different lethal onslaught successful the closing days of a frantic U.S.-led evacuation. White House property caput Jen Psaki said Biden’s nationalist information squad offered a grim outlook.

“They advised the president and vice president that different panic onslaught successful Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum unit extortion measures astatine the Kabul airport,” Psaki said, echoing what the Pentagon has been saying since the bombing Thursday astatine Kabul airdrome that pushed the White House deeper into situation implicit a chaotic and deadly decision to a warfare that began astir 20 years ago.

Few caller details astir the onslaught emerged a time later, but the Pentagon corrected its archetypal study that determination had been termination bombings astatine 2 locations. It said determination was conscionable 1 — astatine oregon adjacent the Abbey Gate, followed by gunfire. The archetypal study of a 2nd bombing astatine the adjacent Baron Hotel proved to beryllium false, said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff; helium attributed the mistake to archetypal confusion.

Biden said successful an code to the federation aft the onslaught that the perpetrators cannot hide, and helium vowed to onslaught backmost astatine the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. “We volition hunt you down and marque you pay,” helium said.

Taylor said the Pentagon volition beryllium prepared.

“We person options determination close now” to alteration immoderate retaliatory enactment whitethorn beryllium ordered, Taylor said.

In an Oval Office quality Friday, Biden again expressed his condolences to victims of the attack. The instrumentality location of U.S. subject members’ remains successful coming days volition supply achy and poignant reminders not conscionable of the devastation astatine the Kabul airdrome but besides of the costly mode the warfare is ending. More than 2,400 U.S. work members died successful the warfare and tens of thousands were injured implicit the past 2 decades.

The Marine Corps said 11 of the 13 Americans killed were Marines. One was a Navy sailor and 1 an Army soldier. Their names person not been released pending notification of their families, a sometimes-lengthy process that Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said involves “difficult conversations.”

Still, sorrowful details of those killed were starting to emerge. One Marine from Wyoming was connected his archetypal circuit successful Afghanistan and his woman is expecting a babe successful 3 weeks; different was a 20-year-old antheral from Missouri whose begetter was devastated by the loss. A third, a 20-year-old from Texas, had joined the equipped services retired of precocious school.

Biden ordered U.S. flags to half-staff crossed the state successful grant of the 13.

They were the archetypal U.S. work members killed successful Afghanistan since February 2020, the period the Trump medication struck an statement with the Taliban that called for the militant radical to halt attacks connected Americans successful speech for a U.S. statement to region each American troops and contractors by May 2021. Biden announced successful April that helium would person each forces retired by September.

Psaki said the adjacent fewer days of the ngo to evacuate Americans and others, including susceptible Afghans fleeing Taliban rule, “will beryllium the astir unsafe play to date.” Biden has acceptable Tuesday arsenic the deadline for completing the airlift.

The Pentagon said that arsenic of Friday morning, astir 12,500 radical were airlifted from Kabul successful the past 24 hours, and that flights would proceed for arsenic agelong arsenic possible. Psaki said astir 300 Americans were successful the latest radical departing and that the State Department was moving with astir 500 much who privation to leave. The medication has said it intends to propulsion connected and implicit the airlift contempt the panic threats.

Kirby told reporters the U.S. subject is monitoring credible, circumstantial Islamic State threats “in existent time.”

“We surely are prepared and would expect aboriginal attempts,” Kirby said. He declined to picture details of immoderate further information measures being taken, including those implemented by the Taliban, astir the airdrome gates and perimeter. He said determination were less radical successful and astir the gates Friday.

Biden promised that the Islamic extremist perpetrators would made to “pay” for their actions, and Psaki connected Friday said this was his mode of saying “he does not privation them to unrecorded connected the world anymore.”

Effective retribution, however, volition beryllium harder with less U.S. quality assets and nary subject beingness successful Afghanistan.

Emily Harding, a erstwhile CIA expert and lawman unit manager for the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she doubted Biden’s assurances that the United States volition beryllium capable to show and onslaught panic threats from beyond Afghanistan’s borders. The Pentagon besides insists this alleged “over the horizon” capability, which includes surveillance and onslaught craft based successful the Persian Gulf area, volition beryllium effective.

Harding says she cringes erstwhile she hears Biden restate this assurance.

“It’s mode excessively rosy an appraisal of what’s possible,” said Harding, present a elder chap astatine the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The U.S. is inactive scrambling to found bases person to Afghanistan portion astatine the aforesaid clip removing radical who person worked with the CIA and different quality agencies successful the country, erstwhile officials person said.

The IS affiliate successful Afghanistan has carried retired galore attacks connected civilian targets successful the state successful caller years. It is much extremist than the Taliban, who seized powerfulness little than 2 weeks agone and are an force of IS. The astir heralded American onslaught connected IS came successful April 2017 erstwhile the U.S. dropped the largest accepted weaponry successful its arsenal connected an IS cave and passageway complex. The radical much precocious is believed to person concentrated successful municipality areas, which could complicate U.S. efforts to people them without harming civilians.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the U.S. Central Command main who is overseeing the airlift and is liable for each U.S. subject operations successful the greater Middle East, told reporters Thursday that the archetypal measurement volition beryllium determining with assurance who carried retired the attacks.

“Yes, if we tin find who is associated with this we volition spell aft them,” helium said. “We’ve been wide each on that we clasp the close to run against ISIS successful Afghanistan, and we are moving precise hard close present to find attribution, to find who is associated with this cowardly attack, and we are prepared to instrumentality enactment against them — 24/7, we are looking for them.”

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Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani, Darlene Superville and Nomaan Merchant successful Washington contributed to this report.

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