US forces hit back at the Islamic State on Friday, launching a drone strike against the terror group’s affiliate in Afghanistan — less than 48 hours after the devastating Kabul airport suicide bomb attack which killed at least 13 American service members and 169 Afghans.
In a statement, US Central Command said the operation targeted “planner” of ISIS-K, the group also known as the Islamic State Khorasan, which took credit for Thursday’s deadly attack.
“The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target,” said Capt. Bill Urban of the Central Command.
“We know of no civilian casualties,” he added.
The strike took place a little after President Biden on Thursday evening vowed to “not forgive” and “not forget” those responsible for the attack, and said he had ordered US generals to plan retaliatory strikes on the group’s key assets.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said in remarks from the White House Thursday evening. “I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”
Earlier Friday, Pentagon officials told reporters that they were ready to carry out any retaliatory operation ordered by the president, with Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Joint Staff telling reporters that “we have options there right now.”
A White House official acknowledged Friday that Biden’s national security team has warned the president that another terror attack is “likely” before the Aug. 31 deadline set by the administration to remove all US forces from the country.
“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,” the official said, before adding that “maximum force protection measures” were in place at the airport, where US forces were continuing to process would-be evacuees and flights were still taking off and landing.
The 13 service members killed in Thursday’s bombing were the first US casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020. Thursday also marked the deadliest day for Americans in that country since 31 troops died when a Chinook helicopter was shot down by Taliban forces in August 2011.
With Post wires