A new attack is “highly likely” to occur at Kabul airport within the next 24-36 hours, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday, citing the military.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” Biden said.
“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,” he added.
The military has responded that all necessary precautions have been put in place without affecting the evacuation process, Biden said.
“Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians. Yesterday, we brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans. And today, we discussed the ongoing preparations to help people continue to leave Afghanistan after our military departs,” the statement read.
The US conducted an airstrike against the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) terrorist group in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province on Friday night. A series of bombing attacks in Kabul on Thursday killed 13 US soldiers among the over 100 casualties.
Meanwhile, US and coalition forces have airlifted about 2,000 people from the Afghan capital of Kabul in the last 12 hours, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
“From 8/28 at 3:00 AM EDT [07:00 GMT on Saturday] to 8/28 at 3:00 PM EDT, a total of roughly 2,000 people were evacuated from Kabul,” Jean-Pierre said on Twitter, specifying that 11 US military flights carried 1,400 evacuees, while seven coalition flights carried 600 people.
She added that since August 14, a total of 113,500 people have been evacuated; and since the end of July, the US has helped evacuate 119,000 from Afghanistan.
Foreign troops are under pressure to wrap up evacuation by August 31, as the Taliban warned they would not extend the deadline for the military even in light of Thursday’s deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. At the same time, the Taliban has said it would allow the evacuation of civilians to continue beyond August 31.
The United Kingdom ended its Afghanistan evacuation mission on Saturday. The last aircraft carrying members of the British military has left the airport in the Afghan capital, the UK Ministry of Defence has announced.
“The final flight carrying UK Armed Forces personnel has left Kabul. To all those who served so bravely under enormous pressure and horrendous conditions to safely evacuate the most vulnerable of civilians: Thank you,” the Ministry of Defence said on Twitter.
Earlier on Saturday, UK Ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow said that the United Kingdom had evacuated almost 15,000 Britons and Afghans from Kabul in the past two weeks.
According to Bristow, almost 1,000 military, as well as diplomatic and civilian personnel, worked on the evacuation operation. The United Kingdom was initially planning to end its evacuation mission by Friday evening.
On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation in Afghanistan with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte.
The three agreed that the evacuation of their citizens, as well as local employees and people in need of asylum, was a top priority, along with humanitarian assistance for regional refugees.
Earlier this week, Johnson emphasized that the deadly suicide attacks showed how urgent it was to evacuate people from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover that occurred on August 15.
The UK has said that two British citizens and the child of another Briton were among those killed in the suicide bomb attack at the airport in the Afghan capital. The first plane to bring UK citizens and embassy employees back home from Afghanistan landed in the United Kingdom on August 16.