Flags that were displayed in California to honor 13 U.S. military members who died last month during a terrorist bombing were allegedly vandalized, according to officials on Tuesday.
A memorial including 13 American flags and a Marine Corps flag was displayed on a fence above the 91 Freeway in Riverside, said the Riverside Police Department in a statement on social media. Police officers were notified on Monday after an individual who noticed the flags may have been defaced, said the department.
“Sometime yesterday, an observant citizen noticed the flags appeared to be damaged and it was reported to the police,” said the department, including photos of flags that appeared to be either ripped or cut. “At this point, we don’t have any suspect description but it’s obvious the flags were intentionally damaged.”
The group, “What Is Going on in Riverside County,” brought the incident to the department’s attention, while police said that the allegedly defaced flags were removed and were turned over to a local Boy Scout Troop 703 for proper retirement.
The 13 soldiers were killed during the U.S.-led evacuation mission at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Terrorist group ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, which also claimed the lives of more than 150 Afghans.
It occurred in the midst of a rushed and chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans, and other foreign nationals who were attempting to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban extremist group took over Kabul in mid-August. The Biden administration drew significant condemnation from a number of veterans, Republican lawmakers, and even members of his own Party over how he handled the pullout.
And on Aug. 31, the United States carried out its final evacuation flight and removed all its military troops from Afghanistan, effectively ending the 20-year-long conflict. However, it is believed that hundreds of American citizens and their family members may remain inside the country amid conflicting reports and statements from various administration officials.
Pentagon officials last month acknowledged that possibly thousands of ISIS members may have been released from Afghan prisons by the Taliban as the group made advances across the country.
Ten of the U.S. service members killed in the incident were based out of California’s Camp Pendleton, located in San Diego County and south of Riverside County. The attack last month represented the worst single-day loss since the August 2011 attack on a Chinook helicopter that killed 30 service members.
The department then asked that anyone who has information about the vandalism to contact the Property Crimes Unit at (951) 353-7955. Other details about the incident were not provided by police.