The United States military struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday, bombing an IS member in Afghanistan less than 48 hours after a devastating suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members at the Kabul airport. US Central Command said the US conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State member in Nangahar believed to be involved in planning attacks against the US in Kabul.
The strike killed one individual and spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said they knew of no civilian casualties.
It wasn’t clear if that individual was involved specifically in the Thursday suicide blast outside the gates of the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans were desperately trying to get in as part of the ongoing evacuation from the country after the Taliban’s rapid takeover.
The airstrike fulfilled a vow President Joe Biden made to the nation Thursday when he said the perpetrators of the attack would not be able to hide.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said. Pentagon leaders told reporters Friday that they were prepared for whatever retaliatory action the president ordered.
“We have options there right now,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
President Joe Biden said Thursday that the perpetrators cannot hide, and he vowed to strike back at the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.
US says it wants ‘deeds, not words’ from Taliban to recognise it diplomatically
The US has said it expects “deeds, not words” and “follow through” on pledges by the Taliban to recognise the group diplomatically. Addressing a press conference on Friday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the Taliban has made clear that they would “they would like to see an American diplomatic presence remain” in Afghanistan.
They “have been quite clear and quite open in the fact that they would like other countries to retain their diplomatic missions”, he said, adding that a Taliban spokesperson had said the other day that “we appreciate the embassies that remain open and didn’t close. We assure them of their safety and protection”.
Price said the US is yet to take a call on the issue, but “it is something we are actively discussing, both with our partners and thinking about here as well”.
“We are not prepared to answer them today, precisely because we have heard a range of statements from the Taliban. Some of them have been positive, some of them have been constructive, but ultimately what we will be looking for, what our international partners will be looking for are deeds, not words,” he said.
“What we are going to be focused on in questions of any future diplomatic presence, any questions of recognition, any questions of assistance is follow-through — again, deeds, not words,” Price asserted.
He said though the Taliban have pledged publicly to provide safety and protection to the embassies, the US and its allies will look for an indication that “there is a substance, that there is merit to those statements, an indication that there will be follow-through before we make any such decisions”.
The US plans to get out of Afghanistan by August 31 and hand over the control of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to the people of Afghanistan.