The Pentagon said on Saturday that two high-profile targets of ISIS-K, a local affiliate of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, were killed in a US drone strike on Friday. “Two high-profile ISIS targets were killed, one was wounded, and we know of zero civilian casualties,” US Army Major General Hank Taylor told reporters in a Pentagon briefing, the Xinhua news agency reported.
US Central Command initially assessed on Friday that the drone strike, which occurred in Nangarhar province of eastern Afghanistan, killed one ISIS-K planner. The strike came after a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport on Thursday which killed 13 US service members and some 170 Afghans. ISIS-K had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in the briefing that the US military supporting evacuation had begun its withdrawal from Kabul airport. President Joe Biden set August 31 as the deadline to end the US military mission in Afghanistan.
The US has been scrambling to evacuate Americans and its Afghan partners from the country since the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15. The White House said on Saturday that around 111,900 people had left Afghanistan since August 14.
The latest revelation comes as Western forces complete a colossal humanitarian evacuation mission, which is slated to end in three days.
“We are going to complete this mission by the end of the month,” Kirby said, adding “nothing has changed about the timeline for us.”
“We will do this in as safe and orderly way as possible and that includes being able to continue to evacuate right up until the end,” Kirby said.
The Pentagon also confirmed that the U.S. military in Kabul has begun its retrograde, or withdrawal, process from the country. Kirby said that less than 5,000 service members remain in the country, adding that the U.S. would no longer provide an exact number due to security conditions.
In the last 24 hours, Western forces evacuated 6,800 people out of Kabul on 66 military cargo aircraft flights. Since the mass evacuations began on August 14, approximately 111,900 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan.
About 117,500 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 5,400 U.S. citizens and their families.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that approximately 500 Americans are still seeking evacuation.