In the final hours of US withdrawal, rockets were fired on Kabul's airport

Islamic State militants launched a series of rockets at Kabul’s rapidly-emptying international airport on Monday. There were only hours before the deadline for U.S forces to withdraw at America's end of America's longest conflict.

In the final hours of US withdrawal, rockets were fired on Kabul's airport

Islamic State militants launched a series of rockets at Kabul’s rapidly-emptying international airport on Monday. There were only hours before the deadline for U.S forces to withdraw at America's end of America's longest conflict.

TheEditor
TheEditor
30 August 2021 Monday 16:23
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In the final hours of US withdrawal, rockets were fired on Kabul's airport

The Pentagon has been tight-lipped about the final operations, and has not yet specified when it will complete its withdrawal before Tuesday's deadline. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that there was still time for Americans to participate in a massive airlift which has allowed over 116,000 people to flee Afghanistan since the Taliban's return to power two weeks ago.

U.S. military cargo planes flew all day Monday despite the rocket attack that did not cause any injuries. A video taken from the airport grounds by the Taliban was released. It stated that the Americans had destroyed or removed most of their equipment, and that their troop numbers were much lower. One of the unidentified fighters stated, "It looks as if today will be the final day."

The U.S. has ended its 20-year-old war against the Taliban and is now back at power. Many Afghans are still afraid of them and further instability. There have been occasional reports of violence in Taliban-controlled areas, despite promises to restore security and peace.

According to the White House, in the last 24 hours, approximately 1,200 people were evacuated by the American military on 26 C-17 flights. Two coalition flights took 50 other people.

Scenes of horror and desperation were witnessed during the two-week-long airlift. In the early days, people desperate to flee Taliban rule flooded onto the tarmac and some fell to their deaths after clinging to a departing aircraft. On Thursday, an Islamic State suicide attack at an airport gate killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

The extremist group is far more radical than the Taliban, who captured most of Afghanistan in a matter of days. Both groups have been in conflict before and the Taliban have made it clear that they will not tolerate terrorist groups.

After the attack, the Taliban increased their security around the airport. This helped to evacuate large numbers of Afghans fleeing the country during the last days of U.S.-led airlift. Taliban fighters can now be found along the fence next to the runway.

A large crowd quickly formed around the wreckage of the four-door sedan that was used in the rocket attack. Six homemade rocket tubes were mounted on the car's back.

"I was in the house with my family, including my children. Jaiuddin Khan who lives nearby said that suddenly there were blasts. "We leapt into the house compound, and laid on the ground.

Witnesses said that some of the rockets struck residential blocks and landed in the middle of town. The airport is located approximately 3 km (or less than 2 miles) away from this neighborhood. There were no injuries reported.

According to Navy Capt. According to Bill Urban, a U.S. military spokesperson, five rockets were launched at the airport. He said that a defensive weapon called a C-RAM (a Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System) targeted the rockets with a whirling hail bullets. At the time of the attack, the system produced a distinctive sound, reminiscent of a drill.

A statement by IS, published by Amaq media outlet claimed that militants had fired six rockets.

According to the White House, President Joe Biden was briefed about the rocket attack.

"The president was informed by HKIA that operations continue uninterruptedly, and he has reconfirmed his orders that commanders redouble efforts to prioritize doing whatever it takes to protect our forces on ground," the statement stated, using an acronym that stands for Kabul's international airport.

Monday morning saw planes take off approximately every 20 minutes. One C-17 landing on Monday afternoon emitted flares as it approached. This was a precautionary measure to prevent heat-seeking missiles, and also a sign that the U.S. military is still concerned about the presence of surface-to-air missiles in the country.

It was possible to see smoke from multiple fires around the airport's perimeter. Although it was not clear what was on fire, U.S. forces usually destroy any equipment or material they don't have with them.

Full Coverage: Afghanistan

It was one of few escape routes for Afghans and foreigners fleeing Taliban rule. The evacuations of coalition countries have been halted in recent days. This has left the U.S. military with a few remaining allied Afghan forces largely at loggerheads.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Sunday that was signed by around 100 countries as well NATO and the European Union. It stated that they had been given "assurances" by the Taliban that those with travel documents would be allowed to leave.

According to the Taliban, normal travel will be allowed after the U.S. withdrawal on Tuesday. They also take control of the airport. It is not clear how the militants will manage the airport or which commercial carriers will start flying in due to security concerns.

The Associated Press was informed Monday by Qatar that it participated in negotiations regarding operations at the airport. Lolwa al-Khater, Qatar's Assistant Foreign Ministry, stated that the country's main goal is to restore regular operations and maintain security at the airport. Qatar, a U.S. ally, has hosted a Taliban office for many years.

While the Taliban have vowed not to attack Western forces if they evacuate by Tuesday, IS still poses a threat.

Two IS members were killed in a drone strike that the U.S. conducted on Saturday. Officials in the United States said that a drone strike was conducted by the U.S. on Sunday to blow up an IS vehicle with suicide bombers, who planned to attack the airport.

Relatives of the victims killed in Sunday's attack disputed this account, claiming that it killed civilians who had nothing whatsoever to do with the extremist group.

Najibullah said that his brother-in law, Zemarai Ahmadi (38), had just returned from working for a Korean charity. His children greeted him as he pulled into the garage. That's when the missile struck.

Ismailzada stated that 10 of his family members were killed, and six of the children ranged in age from 2-8 years. He also said that a relative, Naser Najrabi, a former soldier in Afghanistan's army and an interpreter for the U.S. Military in his 20s, was also killed along with two teenagers.

Officials from the United States have confirmed that there were civilian casualties, but they have not confirmed them.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated that the U.S. military takes precautions to prevent civilian casualties during targeted strikes. She stated that "Officially, the loss of life from any source is terrible, and it affects families regardless of where they are living, in America or around the globe."

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