U.S. points drone strike towards ISIS-Okay planner

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden warned those behind a deadly terrorist attack that killed and injured American soldiers and Afghan civilians in Kabul on Thursday that the US “hunt them down and pay them.”

A day later, he followed this threat.

A military drone attack on Friday killed two “senior” ISIS-K members and wounded a third, the first American attack on the terrorist group after a bomb attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The first announcement of the attack by the Pentagon stated that an ISIS-K member had been killed. Military officials updated the death toll on Saturday.

Those killed were “planners and facilitators” for ISIS-K, said Maj. Gen. William D. “Hank” Taylor of the Army, assistant director of the Joint Chiefs for Regional Operations. Their names were not published.

Biden met with his national security team at the White House on Saturday and then warned that another attack was likely in the coming days.

“The local situation remains extremely dangerous and the risk of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” he said in a statement. “Our commanders have told me that an attack is very likely in the next 24-36 hours. I have instructed them to take all possible measures to prioritize the protection of the armed forces.”

Biden vowed to take revenge for further attacks. “Whenever someone tries to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond,” he said. “That is never questioned.”

More:What is ISIS-K? Terrorist group “Islamic State” carried out an attack on Kabul, in which 13 US soldiers were killed

Thirteen U.S. soldiers – 11 Marines, one Navy soldier, and one Army soldier – and at least 169 Afghan people were killed in the Thursday airport bombing that happened when American and Allied forces tried to evacuate people from Afghanistan.

The attack – one of America’s deadliest days in the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan – drew heavy rebuke from Republicans, fueled fears over the final days of the American evacuation mission and threatened Biden’s young presidency as one of chaos rather than one of chaos He promised to define competence in the election campaign.

The bombing came five days ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline set by Biden for the withdrawal of US troops, and with warnings that more terrorist attacks could come soon.

ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.

More:In Afghanistan at the latest: Pentagon says US drone attack killed ISIS-K planners one day after the bomb attack on Kabul airport

Even before the bombing, Biden was harshly criticized for his strategy to end the war, which began in 2001 when the United States invaded Afghanistan and protected the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Just hours after Thursday’s attack, a gloomy Biden named the American soldiers who had killed “heroes” and promised to take revenge on those behind the attack.

“We will not forgive,” he said in the White House. “We will not forget.”

In the wake of the tragedy of the bombing of Kabul, Republican lawmakers rushed to condemn Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, while urging his government to keep troops in the increasingly unstable country beyond Tuesday’s deadline in order to ensure the safe evacuation of all remaining Americans guarantee

Taylor refused to provide details on Friday’s drone attack, but the Pentagon said it occurred in Afghanistan’s Nangahar province.

Military officials believe that the attacked IS-K officials were involved in planning future attacks. A US official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the attack said one of the victims was killed on Friday while traveling with an employee in a vehicle. It wasn’t immediately clear if the employee was the second target killed.

“The fact that two of these people are no longer walking the earth is a good thing,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

The officials are not aware of any civilian casualties in the strike, Taylor said.

ISIS-K’s leadership generally operates in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces in Afghanistan.

ISIS-K considers the Taliban, the Islamic militant group known for its brutality that now controls Afghanistan, to be too pious in its commitment to Islam. The two militant groups attacked each other.

More:They made the “ultimate sacrifice”: the US soldiers who were killed in a bomb attack on an airport in Afghanistan

At about the same time as the drone attack on the ISIS-K targets, the US embassy in Kabul issued a new warning calling on Americans waiting at four airport gates to “leave immediately” because of security threats.

The US State Department’s Consular Office tweeted, “Due to security threats at the airport, we continue to advise US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and airport gates. Those at Abbey Gate, East Gate, North Gate, or New Home Office Gate should leave immediately. “

A State Department spokesman said the agency would not deal with intelligence matters, but noted the “dynamic and volatile security situation” in Afghanistan.

More:“Day of Reckoning”: GOP unites Biden responsible for the bombing in Afghanistan, divided over refugees and next steps

Contributing: Ledyard King