Rockets hit neighborhood near Kabul airport amid US pullout
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A tough day this evening in Kabul as you all know, terrorists attacked that. We've been talking about. I'm worried about that. The intelligence community as assessed has undertaken, attacked by a group known as ISIS K took the lives of american service members standing guard at the airport and wounded several others seriously. He had also wounded a number of civilians and civilians were killed as well. I've been engaged all day constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington. The pentagon as well as in Afghanistan and Doha and my commanders here in Washington in the field have been on this with great detail and you've had a chance to speak to some so far, the situation on the ground is still evolving and I'm constantly being updated. These american service members who gave their lives. It's an overused word, but it's totally appropriate. We're heroes, heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous selfless mission to save the lives of others. There are part of an airlift and evacuation effort unlike any seen in history. Yeah. With more than 100,000 american citizens, American partners, afghans who helped us and others taking the safety In the last 11 days. Just the last 12 hours or so, another 7000 have gotten out. They were part of the bravest, most capable, the most selfless military in the face of the earth and they're part of simply what I call the backbone of America. They're the spine of America the best the country has to offer Jill and I, our hearts ache like I'm sure all of you do as well for all those afghan families who lost loved with including small Children or being wounded with this vicious attack. Mhm And we're outraged as well as heartbroken being the father of a army majors served a year in Iraq and before that was in Kosovo as a U. S. Attorney for better part of six months in the middle of a war. When he came home after a year in in Iraq, I was diagnosed like many, many coming home with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain. We lost. We have some sense like many of you do what the families of these brave hairs are feeling today. You get this feeling like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. There's no way out. My heart aches for you. But I know this. We have a continuing obligation a sacred obligation all of you families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary. It lasts forever. The lies, we lost their lives given in the service of liberty. The service of security, the service of others in the service of America like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism of the fall. On this day. They're part of a great and noble company of american heroes to those who carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm. No, this we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command Over the past few weeks. No, you're many you're probably tired of hearing you say it. We've been made aware by our intelligence community that the ISIS K and arch enemy, the taliban people who were freed when both those prisons were opened has been planning a complex set of attacks on the United States personnel and others. This is why, from the outset, I have repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous on on why I've been so determined to limit the duration of this mission. As General Mackenzie said, this is why our mission was designed. This is the way it was designed to operate. Operating under severe stress and attack. We've known that from the beginning and as I've been in constant contact with our senior military leaders and I mean constant around the clock and our commanders on the ground and throughout the day, they made it clear that we can and we must complete this mission and we will and that's what I've ordered them to do. We will not be deterred by terrorists will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation. I've also ordered my commanders develop operational plans to strike ISIS K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time. At the place we choose in a moment of our choosing. Here's what you need to know. These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the americans. We will get our Afghan allies oh and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated and I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives and get americans. Our partners, our afghan allies out of Afghanistan. Every day when I talked to our commanders, I asked them what they need. What more do they need? If anything, get the job done as they will tell you. I granted every request. I reiterated them today on three occasions that they should take the maximum steps necessary to protect our forces on the ground in Kabul. And I also want to thank the Secretary of Defense and the military leadership at the pentagon and all the commanders in the field. There has been complete unanimity from every commander on the objectives of this mission and the best way to achieve those objectives. Those who've served through the ages have drawn inspiration from the book of Isaiah. When the Lord says, whom shall I send, who shall go for us? American military has been answering for a long time here. I am Lord send me here. I am send me each one of these women and men of our armed forces are the heirs of that tradition of sacrifice of volunteering to go in harm's way to risk everything, not for glory, not for profit, but defend what we love and the people we love. And I ask that you join me now in a moment of silence for all those in uniform and out beautiful military and civilian have given the last full measure of devotion. Mm hmm. Mhm. Thank you. God bless you. All my God, protect the troops and all those standing watch for America. We have so much. Yeah. To do it's within our capacity to do it. We just have to remain steadfast steadfast. You will complete our mission. We will continue after our troops have withdrawn to find means by which we defined any american who wishes to get out of Afghanistan, we will find them and we will get them out. Mhm. Ladies and gentlemen gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was kelly O'donnell of NBC. You have said Leaving Afghanistan is in the national interest of the United States. After today's attack. Do you believe you will authorize additional forces to respond to that attack inside Afghanistan. And are are you prepared to add additional forces to protect those americans who remain on the ground carrying out the evacuation operation. I've instructed the military, whatever they need. If they need additional force, I will grant it. But the military from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Chiefs commanders in the field have all contacted me one way or another, usually by letter saying they subscribe to the mission is designed to get as many people out as we can within the time frame. It is a lot that is the best way they believe to get as many americans out as possible and others. And with regard to finding tracking down the ISIS leaders who ordered this, we have some reason to believe we you know who they are not certain and we will find ways of our choosing without large military operations to get them wherever they are. Um Trevor Reuters, Thank you. Mr President. Um There's been some criticism even from people in your party about the dependence on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of the airport. Do you do you feel like there was a mistake made in that regard? No, I I don't look um I think General Mackenzie handle this question very well. The fact is that we're in a situation inherited the situation, particularly since, as we all know That the Afghan military collapsed 11 days before in 11 days that it is in the interest of as Mackenzie said in the interest of the Taliban that in fact ISIS K does not testIS size beyond what it is. Number one and number two, it's in their interest that we are able to leave on time on target as a consequence of that the major things we've asked them moving back the perimeter, give me more space between the wall stopping vehicles from coming through etcetera, searching people coming through. It is not what you'd call a tightly commanded regimented operation like the U. S. S. Military is but they're acting in their interest, their interest and so by and large and I've asked the same question two military on the ground whether or not it's a useful exercise, no one trusts them. We're just counting on their self interest to continue to generate their activities. It's in their self interest that we leave when we said and that we get as many people out as we can. Like I said even in the midst of anything happened today, over 7000 People have gotten out over 5000 Americans over. So uh it's not a matter of trust, it's a matter of mutual self interest and but there is no evidence thus far that I've been given as a consequence by any of our commanders in the field that there has been collusion between the taliban and ISIS and carrying out what happened today, both in front of the hotel and what is expected to continue for beyond today. Right. Um Amir Associated Press. Oh thank you Mr President. You have spoken again powerfully about your own son and the weight of these decisions with that in mind and also what you've said um that the longer we stay, the more likelihood that there would be a major attack, How do you weigh staying even one more day considering what's happened? Because I think what America says matters what we say we're going to do in the context in which we say we're going to do it, that we do it unless something exceptional changes. There are additional american citizens, their additional green card holders for additional personnel of our allies, traditional s ivy cardholders for additional afghans that have helped us. And there are additional groups of individuals that we've been contacted us from women's groups to Ngos and others who have expressly indicated they want to get out and have gathered in certain circumstances in groups on buses and other means that still presents the opportunity for the next Several days between now and the 31st to be able to get them out and our military and I believe to the extent that we can do that knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack. The military's concluded that's what we should do. I think they're right, think they're correct. And after that we're going to be in a circumstance where there are will be I believe, numerous opportunities to continue to provide access for additional persons to get out of Afghanistan either through means that we provide and or are provided through in cooperation with the taliban. They're not good guys taliban. I'm not suggesting that at all, but they have a keen interest, as many of you have been reporting. They very much would like to figure out how to keep the airport open and have the capacity to do it. They very much are trying to figure out whether or not they can maintain, what is the portion of an economy that has become not robust, but fundamentally different than it had been. And so there's a lot of reasons why they have reached out and touched to us with the others as to why it would be continued in their interest to get more of the personnel we want to get out, we can locate them. Now. There's not many left that we can assess. They don't want to come out. There's some americans we've identified and contacted. The vast majority of them, Not all of them who don't want to leave because they have seen their dual nationals, they have extended families etcetera. And there's others who are looking for the time. So that's why we continue. I'll take a few more questions. And uh, but you sir, I wanted to ask you, uh, You say that what America says matters. Um what do you say to the Afghans who helped troops um, who may not be able to get out by August 31. I say we're going to continue to try to get you out. It matters. Look, I know of no conflict as a student of history, no conflict where when a war was ending, one side was able to guarantee that everyone they wanted to be extracted from that country would get out and think about it folks, I think it's important, I know the american people get this in their gut. There are, I would argue millions of afghani citizens who are not Taliban, who did not actively cooperate with us as S Ivs who have given a chance baby on board a plane tomorrow. It sounds ridiculous but the vast majority of people in communities like that want to come to America given a choice. So getting every single person out is can't be guaranteed anybody because there's a determination all who wants to get out as well. Any rate, it's a process. I was really pointing to you. But you sir, um thank you Mr. President, there are reports that U. S. Officials provided the Taliban with names of americans and Afghan officials to evacuate, Were you aware of that? Did that happen? And then sir, did you personally reject a recommendation to hold or to recapture bagram Air force base? Here's what I've done on the asked us to answer the last question first, on the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or war. I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan. The commanders as well as the pentagon. I ask for their best military judgment. What would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission. They concluded the military bagram was not much value added that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul and so I followed that recommendation with regard to there are certain circumstances where we've gotten information and quite frankly sometimes from some of you saying, you know of such and such a group of people or trying to get out there on a bus. They're moving from other people. And this is the location. And there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this for example, this bus is coming through with x number of people on it made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through. So yes, there have been occasions like that and to the best of my knowledge in those cases the bulk of that has occurred. They've been let through. But I can't tell you with any certitude that there's actually been a list of names. I don't there may have been but I know of no circumstance. It doesn't mean it's not didn't exist That here's the names of 12 people there come and let them through. It could very well have happened. I'll take one more question. Wait, wait, wait, let me take the one question from the most interesting guy that I know in the press that's you Mr President, there had not been a US service member killed in combat in Afghanistan since February of 2020, you set a deadline, you pulled troops out, you sent troops back in And now 12 marines are dead. You said the buck stops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks? I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that's happened of late. But here's the deal. You know, I wish you one day say these things you know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the taliban that he would get all american forces Out of Afghanistan by May one. In return. The commitment was made. That was a year before. In return he was given a commitment. It's the taliban would continue to attack others but would not attack any american forces. Remember that I'm being serious. Uh no, I'm asking you a question because before No, no, no wait a minute, I'm asking you a question. Is that accurate the best you're not okay. What? Yeah. Do you think that people have an issue with pulling out of the biggest things? Just the way that things are? I think they have an issue that people I'd like to get hurt some as we've seen, we've gotten killed and that it is messy. The reason why whether my friend will acknowledge it always reported it. The reason why there were no attacks on americans as you said from the date until I came into office Was because the commitment was made by President Trump. I will be out by May one. In the meantime you agree not to attack any americans. That was the deal, that's why no american was attacked basically said you squarely stand by your decision to pull out? Yes, I do. Because look at it this way folks and I'm gonna have another meeting for real. But imagine where we'd be. If I had indicated on May the first, I was not going to renegotiate i evacuation date, we were going to stay there. I have only one alternative pour thousands of more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won, relatives of why the reason we went in the first place. I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing american lives to try to establish a democratic government and Afghanistan a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country and is made up. I don't mean this in a derogatory made up of different tribes who have never, ever, ever gotten along with one another. And so as I said before, the last comment, I'll make, we'll have more chance to talk about this. Unfortunately, beyond because we're not out yet. If Osama bin laden as well as Al Qaeda had chosen to launch an attack when they left Saudi Arabia out of Yemen, would we have ever gone to Afghanistan even though the Taliban completely controlled Afghanistan at the time. Would we have ever gone. I know it's not fair to ask you questions, it's rhetorical but raise your hand if you think we should have gone and given up thousands of lives and tens of thousands of wounded, our interest in going was to prevent Al Qaeda from re emerging first to get bin laden, wipe out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, prevent that from happening again. As I've said 100 times, terrorism is metastasized around the world. We have greater threats coming out of other countries, heck of a lot closer to the United States. We don't have military encampments there. We don't keep people there. We have over the horizon capability to keep them from going after us. Ladies and gentlemen, It was time to end a 20-year war. Thank you so much.
Related video above: Biden speaks after deadly Kabul airport attackRockets struck a neighborhood near Kabul's international airport on Monday amid the ongoing U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It wasn't immediately clear who launched them.The rockets struck Monday morning in Kabul's Salim Karwan neighborhood, witnesses said. Gunfire immediately followed the explosions but it wasn't immediately clear who was firing. TA witness who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash in the sky.People fled after the blasts, the witness said.U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. military cargo planes continued their evacuations at the airport after the rocket fire.In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying officials briefed President Joe Biden on “the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport” in Kabul.“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,” the statement said, using an acronym for Kabul's airport.On Sunday, a U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate on Sunday before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said. An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.The U.S. is to withdraw from Afghanistan by Tuesday. By then, the U.S. is set to conclude a massive two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban back in power.The U.S. State Department released a statement Sunday signed by around 100 countries, as well as NATO and the European Union, saying they had received “assurances” from the Taliban that people with travel documents would still be able to leave the country. The Taliban have said they will allow normal travel after the U.S. withdrawal is completed on Tuesday and they assume control of the airport.However, Afghans remain fearful of the Taliban returning to the oppressive rule for which it was once known. There have been sporadic reports of killings and other abuses in the sweep across the country.Earlier this week, an Islamic State suicide attack outside the airport killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. The U.S. carried out a drone strike elsewhere in the country on Saturday that it said killed two members of the Islamic State's local affiliate in Afghanistan, which has battled the Taliban in the past.
Related video above: Biden speaks after deadly Kabul airport attack
Rockets struck a neighborhood near Kabul's international airport on Monday amid the ongoing U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It wasn't immediately clear who launched them.
The rockets struck Monday morning in Kabul's Salim Karwan neighborhood, witnesses said. Gunfire immediately followed the explosions but it wasn't immediately clear who was firing. T
A witness who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash in the sky.
People fled after the blasts, the witness said.
U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. military cargo planes continued their evacuations at the airport after the rocket fire.
In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying officials briefed President Joe Biden on “the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport” in Kabul.
“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,” the statement said, using an acronym for Kabul's airport.
On Sunday, a U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate on Sunday before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said. An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.
The U.S. is to withdraw from Afghanistan by Tuesday. By then, the U.S. is set to conclude a massive two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban back in power.
The U.S. State Department released a statement Sunday signed by around 100 countries, as well as NATO and the European Union, saying they had received “assurances” from the Taliban that people with travel documents would still be able to leave the country. The Taliban have said they will allow normal travel after the U.S. withdrawal is completed on Tuesday and they assume control of the airport.
However, Afghans remain fearful of the Taliban returning to the oppressive rule for which it was once known. There have been sporadic reports of killings and other abuses in the sweep across the country.
Earlier this week, an Islamic State suicide attack outside the airport killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. The U.S. carried out a drone strike elsewhere in the country on Saturday that it said killed two members of the Islamic State's local affiliate in Afghanistan, which has battled the Taliban in the past.