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.
“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 had the resources they believed they needed 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.
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.
Military commanders also updated Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday on plans to develop targets among ISIS-K, the splinter group of Islamic militants who claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack.
Biden alluded to these plans in remarks he gave on Thursday evening.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” said Biden, speaking from the White House.
“We will find ways of our choosing, without large military operations, to get them, wherever they are.”
— CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.