A spokesperson for the Department of Defense (DOD) on Monday warned there is an “active threat” at the Kabul airport that is still high, while confirming that American soldiers who were deployed to Afghanistan to assist with an evacuation will leave by the Biden administration’s Aug. 31 deadline.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a briefing that there is an “active threat in various ways that we have to be prepared for.”
Last week, a bombing claimed by the ISIS terrorist group killed 13 service members and scores more Afghan civilians, leading to several U.S. airstrikes on targets inside Afghanistan over the past weekend. On Monday, as many as five rockets were fired at the airport, said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor in Monday’s briefing.
“We are operating under the assumption that we need to be prepared for future potential threats,” Kirby said, adding that the “threat stream is still real, still active, and in many cases, is still specific.”
“The threat remains high and remains real,” Kirby continued, adding that the military has “worked out a very carefully coordinated method of safely completing this retrograde.”
When asked about the contours of their plans, Kirby replied, “We are in a particularly dangerous time now, not that it hasn’t always been dangerous, but it is particularly dangerous now, and we are not going to detail every aspect of our troop protection … while we have troops in harms way and while we try to get people out of Afghanistan.”
About two weeks ago, the Taliban took over Kabul after a blistering offensive through the country that saw most provinces captured in the span of about 11 days. Top White House officials later said they did not have the intelligence to suggest that the group would capture Afghanistan in such a short period of time, drawing bipartisan criticism for how the U.S. withdrawal was being handled.
Pentagon officials on Monday said that around 600 Americans remain in Afghanistan and wish to be evacuated. About 1,200 people were evacuated from the airport on Sunday, said Taylor in the news conference.
Also on Sunday, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed the military carried out an airstrike on a vehicle that was said to be carrying a suicide bomber and explosives to conduct a terrorist attack at the airport. However, reports citing a relative indicated that nine family members, including children, were killed in the airstrike.
“We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties. It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further,” Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for CENTCOM, said in a statement.
But those who died were “an ordinary family,” a family member told CNN. “We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home … where my brothers lived with their families.”
The Epoch Times has contacted CENTCOM for comment.