Washington DC: US President Biden on Thursday vowed the United States will carry out strikes against the group responsible for the bombings that killed a dozen Americans. "To those who carried out this attack...know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay," Biden said in prepared remarks from the East Room of the White House.
The President further added the US has "some reason to believe" the US knows the identities of the IS leaders who ordered the attacks. "We will find ways of our choosing, without large military operations, to get them - wherever they are."
Biden in his message said he asked military commanders for plans to strike IS-K, saying the US will respond with "precision...at a place that we choose, and the moment of our choosing."
The Commander in Chief also declared the US would carry out its plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month.
"We can and we must complete this mission and we will," Biden asserted. "And that's what I've ordered them to do. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation."
Pentagon officials said two suicide bombers, determined to be affiliated with IS, were involved in the attack. One bomb went off near a gate just outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, followed by gunfire, and another bomb exploded near the Baron Hotel a short distance away.
The Thursday attack was the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan in roughly a decade. At least 60 Afghan civilians also died in Thursday's bombings.
The President held a moment of silence and offered condolences to the families of U.S. service members who died in the Kabul explosion. In his message, Biden called the American service members who lost their lives "heroes" and "the best the country has to offer."
"The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others, in the service of America," he said. Biden stressed "I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country...it was time to end a 20 year war"
The Biden administration had bluntly warned just days earlier of the increasing likelihood of a terrorist attack around the airport the longer U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan. Officials had in recent days sought to focus attention on rapidly escalating efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghan civilians who aided the U.S. war effort or who were considered vulnerable populations under Taliban rule.
The U.S. has evacuated more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan since the end of July. The State Department said earlier Thursday there were roughly 1,000 Americans remaining in the country, roughly 700 of which are taking steps to leave.
At a Pentagon press conference, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said 15 U.S. troops are among the injured. He said the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombings, followed by gunfire. A U.S. official told The Associated Press the attack is "definitely believed" to have been carried out by the Islamic State group. While McKenzie didn't blame ISIS-K, he did say "the threat from ISIS-K is very real."
McKenzie added the evacuation has now taken 104,000 people out of Afghanistan, including nearly 5,000 Americans. He estimates about 1,000 Americans remain. Aug. 31 -- this coming Tuesday -- is the administration's planned withdrawal deadline.