A dozen U.S. service members are among more than 70 killed in twin suicide bomber attacks carried out Thursday by the Islamic State just outside the airport in Kabul, according the commander in charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"Two suicide bombers, assessed to have been ISIS fighters, detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport and in the vicinity of the Baron Hotel, which is immediately adjacent," said Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, USCENTCOM Commander. "The attack on the Abbey gate was followed by a number of ISIS gunmen who opened fire on civilian and military forces."
Military officials said 11 of the American dead were Marines, the other was a Navy medic. Fifteen other service members were injured. The troops were providing security at the gate and helping verify eligibility of those seeking to board flights out of the country.
In an emotional speech from the White House, President Joe Biden said the attacks would not drive the U.S. out of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled and warned of consequences for those responsible.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said.
The president described the service members who gave their lives as “heroes.”
“Heroes who had been engaged in dangerous selfless mission to save lives of others,” Biden said.
The deaths are the first U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan since February 2020 and come as the U.S. and its allies desperately try to complete the evacuation of thousands of their own citizens, as well as, potentially tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans by an Aug. 31 deadline.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress said troops need to stay past the Aug. 31 deadline if necessary.
"Leave no one behind enemy lines, no one," Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.
There had been intelligence reports of a possible attack with the state department issuing a warning overnight for Americans to stay away from the airport.
Oklahoma members have been critical of the withdrawal all along.
“President Biden now has the blood of American patriots on his hands," Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1 said. "This tragedy can only be a direct result of his lack of leadership.”
In another statement, Senator Jim Inhofe called on President Biden to "hold accountable those who are responsible for — as well as those who enabled — today’s murderous attack in Kabul."