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The United States launched a drone strike on Sunday to protect the Kabul evacuation, as the Biden administration and its European allies promised to help people leave Afghanistan after the withdrawal deadline on Tuesday.
The US military stated that it carried out a “self-defense” airstrike on a car in the Afghan capital, posing an “imminent Isis-K threat” to the international airport. The local branch of the Islamic terrorist organization Isis-K claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Thursday, which killed more than 100 Afghans and 13 US troops.
“We are confident that we will succeed in achieving our goal. US Central Command spokesperson Captain Bill Urban said that a major secondary explosion in the vehicle indicated the presence of a large amount of explosives.
Video from the city showed a cloud of smoke over a block in northwestern Kabul, but it is not clear whether this came from the same attack. The United States stated that there are no signs of civilian casualties.
The drone attack occurred a few hours after President Joe Biden warned that another terrorist attack in the area was “very likely within the next 24 to 36 hours.” It also emphasized the risk of participating in the final days of evacuation from the western part of the Afghan capital, and US officials continued to warn of another impending attack.
Jack Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told CNN on Sunday: “We are doing everything we can to prevent and disrupt the threat stream we are seeing and prevent any attacks that might endanger the lives of American soldiers or civilians. Try to enter the airport.
“But all we can do is reduce the risk. We cannot eliminate the risk. Given what we see in the intelligence, we are in a period of serious danger.”
The Taliban, which seized power through Operation Blitz earlier this month, have increased their military presence around Kabul Airport since Thursday’s attack, which has increased concerns that its fighters are preventing large numbers of Afghans who are eligible to evacuate from leaving. .
The Taliban set up multiple checkpoints on the road to the airport to search for and review arrivals and carry a list of people who may be evacuated. Some of them were heavily armed fighters wielding American-issued weapons and tactical equipment seized from the Afghan army.
The United States evacuated 2,000 people in 12 hours on Saturday, bringing the total number of people evacuated or helped to evacuate since August 14 to more than 115,000. But the Biden administration still hopes to evacuate hundreds more, including about 300 American civilians who remain in the country.
Many experts have warned that the government will not be able to airlift all Americans before the deadline on Tuesday, Sullivan said, and others will still be able to evacuate with the help of the Taliban.
“After August 31, we believe that we have a lot of influence to enable the Taliban to fulfill their promises and allow U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and [our] Afghan ally,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that France and the United Kingdom will begin a diplomatic push to establish a safe zone in the Afghan capital for those trying to leave the country. A UN Security Council resolution will be submitted on Monday.
“Our draft resolution aims to establish a safe zone in Kabul under the control of the United Nations in order to continue humanitarian operations,” he told the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
“This is very important. This will provide the United Nations with a framework for urgent action. Most importantly, it will allow us to face everyone’s responsibilities and allow the international community to continue to put pressure on the Taliban.”
The Elysée Palace later confirmed its plan to the United Nations on the “safe zone” issue. Diplomatic sources said that France has the support of Germany, but Paris is still waiting for a response from Russia and China, which are also members of the UN Security Council.
Germany has not officially announced its support for the initiative, but its Foreign Minister Heiko Maas went to the area on Sunday to discuss how to continue to evacuate German nationals and Afghan civilians.
“Germany’s commitment will not end with the completion of the military evacuation mission,” he said in a statement. He vowed to “work hard to ensure that international cooperation continues at this critical stage beginning now.”
He said that these efforts involve coordination with neighboring countries for further evacuation, “including the issue of how to quickly resume civilian operations at the airport. This requires a coordinated international approach to the Taliban.”
Biden went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday morning to formally receive the bodies of 13 American soldiers killed in the explosion on Thursday. Before their flag-covered transfer cases land in the United States, the President should meet with some of the families of these soldiers.
A supplementary report by Fazelminallah Qazizai in Kabul, Leila Abboud in Paris and Erika Solomon in Berlin