Rockets fired at Kabul airport as U.S. withdrawal deadline nears

Rockets were fired at Hamid Karzai International Airpot in Kabul, Afghanistan, early Monday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/USMC/UPI Photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/USMC/UPI

Aug. 30 (UPI) — Rockets were fired early Monday at the Kabul airport at the center of the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan, a mission that is to be completed Tuesday.

The White House said in a brief statement that national security advisor Jake Sullivan and Chief of Staff Ron Klain have briefed President Joe Biden on the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“The president was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

It is unclear if it resulted in any casualties.

The attack targeted the airport, which has been thrown into chaos amid a mass exodus from Afghanistan that has followed the Taliban seizing control of the country earlier this month.

The United States has been conducting airlifts of U.S. military personnel, citizens and Afghans out of the Middle Eastern nation since, with Biden stating the mission will be completed by Tuesday.

Late Sunday, the State Department released a statement saying the Taliban have assured them all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizens authorized to leave the country will be allowed to do so unimpeded.

Nearly 100 countries including the United States issued that joint statement, committing to ensuring the safe exit of all of their citizens, residents and employees as well as Afghans who worked with them during the 20-year war and those at risk under Taliban rule.

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designate Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries,” they said.

The statement was issued hours after the United States struck a suspected car bomb believed to be loaded down with explosives near the airport where days earlier upwards of 170 people, including 13 U.S. service members, were killed in explosions. Both of the attacks have been blamed on the Islamic State terrorist organization.

Late Sunday, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said that they are aware of reports of casualties from the drone strike earlier in the day.

He said powerful explosions that followed the original strike on the vehicle indicated it was carrying a large amount of explosive material but it “may have caused additional casualties.”

“It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further,” he said. “We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life.”

More than 117,000 people have been evacuated under the airlift mission from Afghanistan since Aug. 14 as the Taliban seized country of the country.


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