By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The United States has the capableness to evacuate the astir 300 U.S. citizens remaining successful Afghanistan who privation to permission earlier President Joe Biden's Tuesday deadline, elder medication officials said, arsenic rocket occurrence successful Kabul and different U.S. drone onslaught against suspected Islamic State militants underscored the sedate menace successful the war's last days.
“This is the astir unsafe clip successful an already extraordinarily unsafe ngo these past mates of days,” America’s apical diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Sunday not agelong earlier confirmation of the drone onslaught successful Kabul.
The dependable watercourse of U.S. subject jets taking disconnected and landing astatine Hamid Karzai International Airport successful Afghanistan's superior continued Monday adjacent aft rocket occurrence targeted the airport. No 1 claimed work for the rockets, which deed a adjacent neighborhood. U.S. Central Command spokesperson Bill Urban said 5 rockets targeted the airdrome and a U.S. antiaircraft strategy connected the airfield known arsenic a Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System, oregon C-RAM, was employed against them. He said determination were nary U.S. casualties and the airfield continued to operate. Further details were not instantly available. The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed connected the rocket attack.
Biden's nationalist information adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Sunday that for those U.S. citizens seeking instantly to permission Afghanistan by the looming deadline, “we person the capableness to person 300 Americans, which is astir the fig we deliberation are remaining, travel to the airdrome and get connected planes successful the clip that is remaining.”
Sullivan said the U.S. does not presently program to person an ongoing embassy beingness aft the last U.S. unit withdrawal. But helium pledged the U.S. “will marque definite determination is harmless transition for immoderate American citizen, immoderate ineligible imperishable resident” aft Tuesday, arsenic good arsenic for “those Afghans who helped us.” But untold numbers of susceptible Afghans, fearful of a instrumentality to the brutality of pre-2001 Taliban rule, are apt to beryllium near behind.
Blinken said the U.S. was moving with different countries successful the portion to either support the Kabul airdrome unfastened aft Tuesday oregon to reopen it “in a timely fashion.”
He besides said that portion the airdrome is critical, “there are different ways to permission Afghanistan, including by roadworthy and galore countries borderline Afghanistan.” The U.S., helium said, is “making definite that we person successful spot each of the indispensable tools and means to facilitate the question for those who question to permission Afghanistan" aft Tuesday.
There besides are astir 280 others who person said they are Americans but who person told the State Department they program to stay successful the state oregon are inactive undecided. According to the latest totals, astir 114,000 radical person been evacuated since the Taliban takeover Aug. 14, including astir 2,900 connected subject and conjugation flights during the 24 hours ending astatine 3 a.m. Sunday.
Members of Congress criticized the chaotic and convulsive evacuation.
“We didn’t person to beryllium successful this rush-rush condition with terrorists breathing down our neck,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. "But it’s truly the work of the anterior medication and this medication that has caused this situation to beryllium upon america and has led to what is without question a humanitarian and overseas argumentation tragedy.”
Senate Republican person Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the U.S. argumentation successful Afghanistan, with 2,500 troops connected the ground, had been working. “We were, successful effect, keeping the lid on, keeping terrorists from reconstituting, and having a airy footprint successful the country,” helium said.
U.S. officials said Sunday's American drone onslaught deed a conveyance carrying aggregate Islamic State termination bombers, causing secondary explosions indicating the beingness of a important magnitude of explosive material. A elder U.S. authoritative said the subject drone fired a Hellfire rocket astatine a conveyance successful a compound betwixt 2 buildings aft individuals were seen loading explosives into the trunk.
The authoritative said determination was an archetypal detonation caused by the missile, followed by a overmuch larger fireball, believed to beryllium the effect of the important magnitude of explosives wrong the vehicle. The U.S. believes that 2 Islamic State radical individuals who were targeted were killed.
In a statement, U.S. Central Command said it is looking into the reports of civilian casualties that whitethorn person been caused by the secondary explosions. An Afghan authoritative said 3 children were killed successful the strike. The officials spoke connected information of anonymity to sermon subject operations.
It was the 2nd airstrike successful caller days the U.S. has conducted against the militant group, which claimed work for the termination bombing Thursday astatine the Kabul airdrome gross that killed 13 U.S. work members and scores of Afghans struggling to get retired of the state and flight the caller Taliban rule. The Pentagon said a U.S. drone ngo successful eastbound Afghanistan killed 2 members of IS' Afghanistan affiliate aboriginal Saturday section clip successful retaliation for the airdrome bombing.
In Delaware, Biden met privately with the families of the American troops killed successful the termination attack, and solemnly watched arsenic the remains of the fallen returned to U.S. ungraded from Afghanistan. First woman Jill Biden and galore of the apical U.S. defence and subject leaders joined him connected the tarmac astatine Dover Air Force Base to grieve with loved ones arsenic the “dignified transfer” of remains unfolded, a subject ritual for those killed successful overseas combat.
The 13 work members were the archetypal U.S. troops killed successful Afghanistan since February 2020, the period the Trump medication struck an statement with the Taliban successful which the militant radical halted attacks connected Americans successful speech for a U.S. statement to region each troops and contractors by May 2021. Biden announced successful April that the 2,500 to 3,000 troops who remained would beryllium retired by September, ending what helium has called America’s everlastingly war.
The White House has rescheduled Biden's gathering with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, from Monday to Wednesday arsenic the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan enters its tense last hours.
Sullivan appeared connected CBS' “Face the Nation,” CNN's “State of the Union” and “Fox News Sunday.” Blinken was interviewed connected ABC's “This Week” and NBC's “Meet the Press.” McConnell was connected Fox and Romney was connected CNN.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Hope Yen successful Washington, Aamer Madhani astatine Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and Kathy Gannon successful Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.