As the Tuesday Afghanistan withdrawal deadline approaches, Islamic militants are stepping up their attacks on Hamid Karzai International Airport.
After deploying a drone to destroy a potential suicide car bomb Sunday, the U.S. military on Monday shot down rockets targeting Kabul airport, where the evacuation from the war-torn country is wrapping up, the New York Times reported.
President Biden warned Saturday that the fraught situation in Afghanistan continues to be “extremely dangerous” and projected another attack on Kabul airport as “highly likely” before the U.S. exit.
A counter-rocket system neutralized the incoming missiles, an anonymous U.S. official told the newspaper.There were no initial reports of casualties and it is still unknown who is responsible for the launches.
With many western forces congregating in one place, rogue militant organizations, such as ISIS, have exploited the chaos to commit more violence amid the emergency evacuation. The U.S. has been conducting an expedited rescue mission of thousands of Afghan escapees and American citizens, 300 of whom still reportedly remain in Kabul, the Times said.
The U.S. is not likely to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the U.S. pull-out this week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken confirmed Sunday.
Blinken vowed that the U.S. will continue to facilitate the evacuation of Afghan refugees even after U.S. withdrawal. U.S. officials told the Times that evacuation missions will be conducted from another nation in the region such as Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates.
Ten civilians were killed in the U.S. drone strike Sunday, according to family members. U.S. Central Command acknowledged the possibility of civilian deaths in a Sunday statement.
“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today,” spokesman Bill Urban said in a statement. “It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further.”
A different U.S. retaliatory drone strike killed two “high-profile” Islamic State leaders in Afghanistan and wounded another, without any reported civilian bloodshed, the Pentagon disclosed Saturday.