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US drone strike destroys ISIS car bomb before it could attack Kabul airport

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S Air Force/Released)
August 29, 2021

A U.S. drone strike destroyed an Islamic State (ISIS) car bomb near the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Sunday.

“U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport,” CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in an emailed statement to American Military News.

“We are confident we successfully hit the target,” Urban added. “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material. We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time. We remain vigilant for potential future threats.”

The Afghan branch of ISIS, known as ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, carried out a suicide bomb attack on the Kabul airport on Thursday, killing around 170 people, including 13 U.S. service members. The ISIS attack wounded another 200 people, including 18 U.S. service members.

The defensive drone strike comes a day after President Joe Biden warned that another ISIS attack on the Kabul airport was expected within the ensuing 24 to 36 hours, as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from the country.

A separate U.S. drone strike killed an ISIS-K attack planner on Friday.

“I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have,” Biden said of the Friday drone strike. “This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt. I thanked General McKenzie for his leadership of that mission, and for his commitment to the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.”

Following Biden’s warning on Saturday about new potential imminent attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a security advisory, telling Americans to avoid the Kabul airport.

“Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately,” the security advisory said.

As of Sunday, around 250 U.S. citizens were still awaiting evacuation from Afghanistan, CNN reported.