This morning, at least 13 U.S. troops were killed in Kabul, Afghanistan by two suicide bombers and gunmen. Twelve deaths were initially announced, followed by confirmation of an extra death hours later.
More than a dozen soldiers were wounded by the attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, bragging about a suicide bomber “managing to penetrate all the security fortifications” put into place by U.S. forces and the Taliban.
This attack is the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in over a decade. A previous attack took place on Aug. 5, 2011, killing 30 U.S. soldiers and 8 others on board a Boeing Chinook Helicopter, which had been shot down by an insurgent armed with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Public officials were quick to respond to the latest attack.
State Secretary Antony Blinken in a statement called the U.S. troops who died “heroes,” adding, “They put their lives on the line to defend our civilian personnel, the civilian personnel of our allies and partners, and Americans, third-country nationals, and Afghans seeking safety.”
“To date, more than 100,000 people have been safely evacuated from Kabul—a testament to the bravery, skill, and determination of all those who are contributing to this vital mission,” Blinken said, commenting on the evacuation efforts that have been taking place in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country on Aug. 15.
“We grieve those we lost today. And we express our most heartfelt condolences to their loved ones,” he said.
Separately, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, released his own statement on Twitter.
“On behalf of the Joint Force, I extend my deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the service members killed today. These brave men and women are taking risks to save lives of the vulnerable and safeguard Americans,” he said. “They’ve moved more than 100,000 people to safety. I could not be prouder of their service. They gave their lives to save others, there is no higher noble calling.”
Within hours of the news, the hashtag “BidenMustResign” began trending on Twitter. At the time of publication, there were over 22,000 Twittter posts bearing the tag.
Another trending hashtag was “PresidentPelosi.” The Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is the third in the presidential line of succession, meaning that she would become president if Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were both impeached or removed under the 25th amendment to the Constitution. Other trending tags were “BidenIsADisgrace” and “BidenDisaster.”
“We mourn the loss of every innocent life taken, and we join every American in heartbreak over the deaths of the Americans and all killed,” Pelosi said in a statement.
She praised the success of military operations in evacuating the Kabul airport, writing, “Since the end of July, over 100,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan with the assistance of the U.S. military and allied forces.”
Some Republicans expressed condolences while suggesting that Biden should step down from office.
“It is sickening and enraging to hear that at least 12 U.S. service members have been killed at the hands of terrorists in Kabul,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Twitter. “We need to redouble our global efforts to confront these barbarian enemies who want to kill Americans and attack our homeland.”
In an attached statement, McConnell called the situation “predictably chaotic [in] the wake of the President’s decision to withdraw.”
He added, “Our sympathies are also with the families of the innocent Afghans whom the terrorists killed today … Our partners in a long fight against terror deserve better than the dark fate that will await them after the last military aircraft has departed.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called the situation “enraging.”
“To say that today’s loss of American lives in Kabul is sickening does not begin to do justice to what has happened. It is enraging,” he said on Twitter. “And Joe Biden is responsible. It is now clear beyond all doubt that he has neither the capacity nor the will to lead. He must resign.”
Biden has been on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan.
The bombings also killed at least 60 Afghans.
The deaths come just two days after House Republicans urged Democrats to suspend consideration of voting and spending legislation.
The emergency session was the first meeting of Congress since the fall of Kabul. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) had introduced a bill during the session seeking to require the Biden Administration to issue daily reports on how many Americans remained trapped in the country and forbid the military from leaving until every American was home safely.
But Democrats shot down the legislation, saying that their spending and election bills were “incredibly important.” They refused to “turn the floor over to the Republican conference.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in asked on Twitter, “Is Joe Biden capable of discharging the duties of his office or has time come to exercise the provisions of the 25th Amendment?”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.