Biden warns another terror attack in Kabul ‘highly likely’ in next 24-36 hours

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President Biden on Saturday warned that another terrorist attack in Afghanistan in the next 24-36 hours is “highly likely” — as he promised to continue to pursue the group responsible for Thursday’s attack that killed 13 U.S. troops.

“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” Biden said in a statement after a meeting with national security advisors and commanders in the field. “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,” he said.

The warning comes after a deadly Islamist terror attack on Thursday outside the gates of the Kabul Airport. The ISIS-K suicide bomb attack resulted in 13 U.S. troops killed, as well with dozens of Afghans who had flooded to the airport in the hope of escaping the approaching Taliban rule. So far more than 117,000 have been evacuated, including approximately 5,400 Americans, the Pentagon announced on Saturday.

The mass evacuation effort of U.S. citizens, Afghan allies and other “at-risk” Afghans, came as the Taliban encroached upon Kabul ahead of the Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal. Biden has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the crisis, and has faced Republican calls for him to resign.

Biden has repeatedly defended his handling of the withdrawal, and has stood by the Aug. 31 withdrawal date. On Thursday, he promised that the U.S. would track down those responsible for the attack.

On Friday, the U.S. launched an air strike that took out two “high-profile” ISIS-K targets who the Pentagon described as “planners and facilitators.” It also injured a third. Biden, in his statement Saturday, promised that more action was still to come.

“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,” he said.

Biden promised the U.S. would continue to evacuate civilians from Kabul, and said that 6,800 had been taken out of Kabul on Friday. He also paid tribute to those who died in service of their country on Thursday.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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