spot_img
29.4 C
Philippines
Sunday, May 26, 2024

US conducts drone strike vs. IS target in Afghanistan

- Advertisement -

The US conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on Saturday, as the airlift of those desperate to flee moved into its fraught final stages with fresh terror attack warnings and encroaching Taliban forces primed to take over Kabul airport.

US forces overseeing the evacuation have been forced into closer security cooperation with the Taliban to prevent any repeat of a suicide bombing that killed scores of civilians crowded around one of the airport’s main access gates and 13 American troops.

The attack was claimed by a regional chapter of the Islamic State group, and the Pentagon announced it had carried out a drone attack on a “planner” from the jihadist group in eastern Afghanistan.

Afghan nationals walk along a fenced corridor after crossing into Pakistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 28, 2021 following the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. AFP
Afghan nationals walk along a fenced corridor after crossing into Pakistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 28, 2021 following the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. AFP

“Initial indications are that we killed the target,” said Captain Bill Urban of the Central Command.

With the airlift window narrowing sharply ahead of an August 31 deadline, more than 5,000 people remain inside Kabul airport awaiting evacuation, and crowds continue to throng the perimeter gates pleading for entry.

The carnage of Thursday’s suicide attack only injected further stress and tension into a situation already fraught with panic and despair for those wanting to leave and high risk for the US forces tasked with securing the operation.

The suicide bombing followed a chorus of warnings about an imminent threat and, as people gathered outside the airport Saturday, the United States issued a fresh alert for US citizens to leave areas around the main gates “immediately.”

In recent years, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in those countries – massacring civilians at mosques, shrines, public squares and even hospitals.

At the White House, President Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said US national security experts consider another attack is “likely” and the next few days will be “the most dangerous period to date.”

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter that the group’s fighters had already moved into parts of the military side of Kabul airport, but the Pentagon stressed that US forces retained control over the gates and airlift operations.

Racing to meet the Tuesday deadline for the US withdrawal has required close cooperation with the Taliban on evacuee movements and the IS threat.

The head of US forces at the airport, Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, is in constant contact with the Taliban official overseeing security around the airport.

And with the Taliban poised to take over when the last US plane leaves, discussions have begun on resuming normal flight operations.

Turkish officials have held initial talks with the Taliban in Kabul about helping get the airport back up and running.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Taliban offer was for them to oversee security at the airport, while Ankara runs logistical operations.

LATEST NEWS

Popular Articles