By ROBERT BURNS, DARLENE SUPERVILLE and MATTHEW LEE
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is vowing to avenge the deaths of 13 American troops and dozens of Afghans successful attacks astatine the Kabul airdrome that thrust the White House deeper into situation implicit a chaotic and deadly extremity to a 20-year war. Retribution, however, volition beryllium harder with less U.S. quality assets successful Afghanistan.
In an affectional code aft the attacks, Biden declared to the extremists responsible: “We volition hunt you down and marque you pay.”
The president, speaking from the White House Thursday, said the U.S.-led evacuation of Americans and others from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan would proceed, and so much than 12,000 radical were airlifted from Kabul successful the past 24 hours, arsenic of Friday morning. U.S. subject officials person said they are braced for much attempted attacks by the radical Biden said was liable for Thursday’s multi-pronged onslaught — the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.
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.
“We volition respond with unit and precision astatine our time, astatine the spot of our choosing,” Biden said. “These ISIS terrorists volition not win.”
As for the bombers and gunmen involved, helium said, “We person immoderate crushed to judge we cognize who they are. Not certain.” He said helium had instructed subject commanders to make plans to onslaught IS “assets, enactment and facilities.”
Gen. Frank McKenzie, the U.S. Central Command main who is overseeing the airlift, told reporters astatine the Pentagon anterior to Biden’s remarks 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.”
Tracking extremist groups successful Afghanistan, including al-Qaida and IS, volition beryllium much hard with nary U.S. forces connected the crushed and an lack of a U.S. quality web that has been pulled retired arsenic portion of Biden’s committedness to extremity what helium calls a everlastingly war. Biden has vowed, nonetheless, to incorporate immoderate menace to the U.S. from Afghanistan by monitoring it with craft and different assets based extracurricular the country.
In his quality astatine the White House, Biden asked for a infinitesimal of soundlessness to grant the work members, bowing his head, and ordered U.S. flags to half-staff crossed the country. The 13 work members who died see 10 Marines and 1 Navy sailor. The subject has not yet identified immoderate of those oregon fixed a work affiliation for the 2 others.
The U.S.-led airlift continued adjacent arsenic commanders and officials were recovering from Thursday’s devastation. The White House said Friday greeting that 8,500 evacuees had been flown retired of Kabul aboard U.S. subject craft successful the erstwhile 24 hours, arsenic good arsenic astir 4,000 radical connected conjugation flights. That is somewhat little than the combined full for the time earlier the attacks.
The coalition’s evacuation flights are scaling back, and the U.S. is scheduled to decorativeness its evacuation cognition by Tuesday. As galore arsenic 1,000 Americans and galore much Afghans are inactive struggling to get retired of Kabul.
Biden said U.S. subject commanders successful Afghanistan had told him it is important to implicit the evacuation mission. “And we will,” helium said. “We volition not beryllium deterred by terrorists.”
Indeed, McKenzie said, “Let maine beryllium clear, portion we are saddened by the nonaccomplishment of life, some U.S. and Afghan, we are continuing to execute the mission.”
McKenzie said 12 U.S. work members had been killed and 15 were wounded. Later, his spokesman, Capt. William Urban, said the toll had risen to 13 dormant and 18 wounded. Urban said the wounded were being evacuated from Afghanistan aboard Air Force C-17 transport planes equipped with surgical units.
It was the deadliest time for U.S. forces successful Afghanistan since August 2011, erstwhile a chopper was changeable down by an insurgent equipped with a rocket-propelled grenade, sidesplitting 30 American troops and 8 Afghans.
White House property caput Jen Psaki said that idiosyncratic calls by Biden to families of the dormant would hold for notification of adjacent of kin and that Biden mightiness question to Dover Air Force Base successful Delaware erstwhile the remains of the fallen work members are returned.
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.
The medication has been wide blamed for a chaotic and deadly evacuation that began successful earnest lone aft the illness of the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities and the Taliban’s takeover of the country. More than 100,000 radical person been evacuated truthful far, Afghans, Americans and others.
House Republican person Kevin McCarthy of California called for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to bring the enclosure backmost into league to see authorities that would prohibit the U.S. withdrawal until each Americans are out. Pelosi’s bureau dismissed specified suggestions arsenic “empty stunts.”
Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani, Lolita C. Baldor and Ellen Knickmeyer successful Washington and James LaPorta successful Boca Raton, Florida, contributed to this report.