Biden warned another Kabul terror attack is ‘likely’

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Taliban stand at the entrance gate of Hamid Karzai International airport while Taliban forces block the roads around the airport after yesterday’s explosions in Kabul, Afghanistan August 27, 2021.

Stringer | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden was warned Friday that another terror attack in Kabul is “likely,” one day after a suicide bomber outside the city’s airport killed at least 113 people, including 13 U.S. service members.

The stark warning from the president’s national security team came as the United States entered the final days of a monthslong military withdrawal from Afghanistan, on track to meet Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline for a full withdrawal.

In the two weeks since Kabul fell on Aug. 14, U.S. and coalition partners have facilitated the evacuation of more than 100,000 people, including more than 5,000 American citizens. The Pentagon said Friday that more than 5,000 U.S. service members are on the ground in Kabul assisting with the evacuation efforts.

Military commanders also updated Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on plans to develop targets among ISIS-K, the splinter group of Islamic militants who claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack.

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“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,” they told Biden, according to a White House statement.

In response, Biden reaffirmed his “approval of all authorities they need to conduct the operation and protect our troops,” said the White House. The generals confirmed to the president that they currently have the resources they believe they need to do so effectively.

Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Thursday that ISIS is likely to try to continue attacks before the evacuations conclude.

“We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks and we expect those attacks to continue,” the four-star general told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the U.S. was monitoring an “extremely active threat stream against the airfield.”

McKenzie, who oversees U.S. military operations in the region, said the threats against Western forces and civilians at the airport ranged from gunfire to rockets to suicide bombings.

“So very, very real threat streams, what we would call tactical that means imminent, could occur at any moment,” he said.

— CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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