US says ISIS-K ‘planner’ of Kabul airport attack killed in drone strike
WASHINGTON: The US military has said that it carried out a drone strike on Saturday at an ISIS- Khorasan (ISIS-K) group in eastern Afghanistan, killing a “planner” of this week’s terrorist attack at the Kabul airport.
“US military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner,” Captain Bill Urban, spokesperson for the US Central Command, said in a statement.
“The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan,” Captain Urban said. “Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.”
The announcement did not identify the targeted individual but indicated that this could be the first of many reprisals at ISIS-K targets for Thursday’s terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport.
Before the drone attack, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin telephoned Turkish Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar and thanked “Turkey for its longstanding and significant support to the mission at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the Pentagon said.
They agreed to stay closely engaged with respect to any future arrangements at the airport.
Secretary Austin also spoke with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah about the situation in Afghanistan. Qatar is facilitating the transit of US citizens, embassy personnel, and at-risk Afghans from Afghanistan to the US.
Over 100 people, including 13 US service members and 22 Taliban fighters, were killed in the attacks.
ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks, prompting an immediate response from US President Joe Biden who addressed his nation on Thursday evening and vowed to punish the perpetrators.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” the president declared.
Biden also ordered American military commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K “assets, leadership and facilities.”
The attack at the airport was one of the deadliest in nearly two decades of the US-led war in Afghanistan.