Deadliest Day for U.S. troops in over a decade...
The Pentagon has confirmed that 12 U.S. troops were killed and 15 wounded in an ISIS attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport Thursday.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command confirmed the American troop death toll Thursday afternoon during a Pentagon news briefing, saying the "complex attack" involved an explosion at the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport, a second explosion near the Baron Hotel, and gunfire from ISIS fighters.
The dozen confirmed dead appears to be the first American service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020. Eleven were Marines and one was a Navy medic
The Abbey Gate is a main entryway to the Kabul international airport. Senior U.S. officials warned of a "specific" and "credible" threat at the airport by the Islamic State, the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K).
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Several injured in an explosion near Kabul airport gate.
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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby earlier initially confirmed the location of the two blasts, tweeting that blast outside the airport's Abbey Gate and "at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel," just a short distance away. At that time, at least four Marines were killed from the explosions, but Kirby did not confirm the exact number.
McKenzie says evacuation flights will continue, noting the plans he set up to continue the efforts in evacuating American citizens and Afghan allies are "designed to operate under stress."
Since Aug. 14, before the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the U.S. military has been sharing "information with" the insurgent militant to prevent future attacks, McKenzie said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that "terrorists took their lives at the very moment" of these troops — many of those are Marines who "were trying to save the lives of others,” nothing the evacuation mission efforts will not stop.
"I express my deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and wounded in Kabul today. Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others," Austin said in a statement. "But we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand. To do anything less — especially now — would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) the first Green Beret special forces veteran who two combat tours in Afghanistan, told reporters today that lawmakers were briefed on this threat during a classified session earlier this week.
"So it was a credible and real threat," Waltz said.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an alert just the night before warning Americans to avoid the area "because of security threats outside the gates" and urged Americans who were at the Abbey Gate entrances to leave immediately.
As of early Thursday morning, the White House said the total number of people evacuated from Kabul since the operation began on Aug. 14 was 95,700, including 13,400 in the last 24 hours.
President Biden is scheduled to give remarks to the nation at 5pm ET