The United States on Friday launched a drone strike that it said killed a member of the Islamic State Khorasan, the group that reportedly claimed responsibility for Thursday’s deadly suicide bombings at the Kabul airport.
“The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan,” said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, according to CNN.
“U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner,” he said. “Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.”
While Urban confirmed the affiliate was actively involved in ISIS-K operations, he did not specify if the person killed played a role in Thursday’s attack, which killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 Afghans.
CNN reported an unnamed defense official said the ISIS-K member killed was thought to be “associated with potential future attacks at the airport.”
“[W]e had sufficient eyes on and sufficient knowledge” to strike, the official said. “He was a known entity.”
The source said the U.S. was not calling the person killed a “senior” ISIS-K member.
Another unidentified defense official reportedly said the drone strike took place in the Jalalabad area of Nangarhar, and noted the compound had been under surveillance.
The source told CNN that when the ISIS-K member’s wife and children left the compound, the U.S. struck.
Asked about the attack, an assistant to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, “We have heard the reports about the Nangarhar incident, but we are trying to find the type of the incident and the casualties. After an investigation, we will react to that,” according to The New York Times.
The announcement of the attack emerged as the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned Americans that new threats have emerged at the airport and told them to “leave immediately” amid the winding down of the evacuation that has taken place since the Taliban stormed through Kabul two weeks ago.
On Saturday, Britain’s final civilian evacuation flight took off.
British Gen. Nick Carter said not everyone who wanted to leave did so.
“We haven’t been able to bring everybody out, and that has been heartbreaking,” he said. “There have been some very challenging judgments that have had to be made on the ground.”
In the final days of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the Pentagon indicated that another terrorist attack could be met with a swift reprisal.
“We have options there right now,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, according to The Associated Press.
The outlet reported President Joe Biden was warned Friday there will likely be more deadly attacks in the region as the U.S. evacuates.
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