A U.S. drone strike on an Islamic State group affiliate stronghold in eastern Afghanistan reportedly killed two ISIS-K members, WFLA reports. The strike was part of President Joe Biden’s promised retaliation for attacks around Kabul and at an airport gate that killed 13 U.S. military members and 169 Afghans on Thursday.
The swift retaliatory strike was authorized by Biden and ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to an anonymous source who provided information about the action before it was officially released.
It was not clear whether the ISIS-K members killed were directly involved in the attacks on the U.S. military.
“It was a single mission to get these targets and as the assessments and information flowed over time, we were able to recognize that another was killed as well and one wounded,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing Saturday.
“Planners and facilitators”
The names of the ISIS-K members killed were not released, but Kirby said they were “planners and facilitators” of attacks.
The ISIS-K attack on U.S. forces was not unexpected but showed the limits of U.S. power and intelligence in the region. The speed of the retaliatory strike, however, was a result of America’s close monitoring of ISIS-K over many years.
More attacks against the U.S. could be coming, top Pentagon and intelligence officials said on Friday, and the threat of further attacks is high.
“They advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Americans are being urged to stay away from the gates at Hamid Karzai International Airport as a result of the increased threat environment.
Bomber heavily armed
The Thursday attack was carried out, reportedly by a single suicide bomber, who had 25 pounds of explosives in his vest, Pentagon officials said, according to the Associated Press. Typically, most suicide vests only contain five to 10 pounds of explosives.
The vest was also packed with shrapnel, which extends the kill zone of the bomb after detonation.
According to the Pentagon, as of Saturday morning, 6,800 people had been airlifted out of the country in the previous 24 hours, and 117,000 people over the past two weeks. However, once the U.S. military evacuates completely on Tuesday, it is unclear whether the U.S. plans to continue rescue efforts or whether they will have the intelligence and other capabilities to do so.