Attacks outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul left at least 12 U.S. service members and an unknown number of Afghan citizens dead.
At least 15 additional U.S. service members were injured. General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of United States Central Command, said Thursday afternoon that officials are “still working to calculate the total loss.”
The area outside the airport has been crowded and chaotic in recent days as both U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals attempt to evacuate the country.
The two explosions, reportedly caused by suicide bombers, were followed by gunmen opening fire on both civilians and military forces, according to McKenzie. The Islamic State — an enemy of both the U.S. and the Taliban forces that now control Afghanistan — claimed responsibility for the attack.
Despite the attack and what McKenzie described as the “extremely active” threat of potential additional attacks to come, the evacuation effort is continuing. President Joe Biden recommitted Tuesday to an August 31 mission deadline.
“They gave their lives to save others, there is no higher calling,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley said Thursday of the service members killed. “We remain focused and steadfast on the mission.”
McKenzie said that over 104,000 civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan so far, with about 1,000 American citizens still remaining.
The United States is coordinating with the Taliban to stave off attacks, and McKenzie credited the Taliban with thwarting some attempts thus far. He added that attacks are expected to continue, but that “ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing the mission.”
He said that there is no need for additional U.S. troops to garrison the airport.
Biden had previously promised retribution should harm befall American forces or the evacuation mission.
“If we can find who’s associated with this, we will go after them,” McKenzie said. “Twenty-four-seven, we are looking for them.”