Pentagon confirms deaths of two 'high profile' ISIS-K terrorists, but won't release names

The Pentagon confirmed that two ISIS-K members were killed and one other wounded in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province. The target ISIS-K official killed was supposedly planning future attacks.

Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary AB

The Pentagon confirmed Saturday that a Friday drone strike in Afghanistan killed two members of ISIS-K and wounded one.

The American airstrike came shortly after President Joe Biden vowed revenge for the Kabul airport bombing Thursday, reported the Daily Mail. Thirteen US soldiers died along with at least 169 Afghans. 11 of the victims were Marines, with one Navy corpsman and one Army soldier.

Biden warned that the US would "hunt you [those responsible] down and make you pay." A day later, he followed through on that threat.

Biden commended the "bravery and sacrifice" of the US military Friday. He said while the 13 deaths were "tragic," they died for a "worthy mission."

The Pentagon announced late Friday that a military drone strike targeted a planner for ISIS-K, the first American attack on the terrorist group following a bomb attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

"We know of zero civilian casualties," said Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor, joint staff deputy director for regional operations.

Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby confirmed in an update that two ISIS-K members were killed and one ISIS-K member wounded in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. They were planners and facilitators for the organization. The Pentagon added that the target ISIS-K official killed was supposedly planning future attacks.

With three days until Biden's August 31 withdrawal, evacuations continued for Americans, Afghan allies and others seeking to escape the rule of the fundamentalist Taliban.

Kirby said the threat to US military personnel at the airport in Kabul remains "active" and confirmed the military would conclude its withdrawal on schedule.

"The threats are still very real, they’re very dynamic, and we are monitoring them in real-time," said Kirby of ISIS-K.

"Our mission to continue evacuating those as required and to meet the mission requirement by August 31 is what commanders are executing," he said. "We will maintain the ability to defend ourselves and our operations all the way through."

Kirby added the Pentagon would not release the names of the two "high-profile" ISIS planners killed in the strike.

The White House on Saturday said the US evacuated about 6,800 people from Kabul between 3 am Friday and 3 am Saturday. Thirty-two US military flights carried about 4,000 people, and 34 coalition flights held another 2,800 people.

Since August 14, the US either evacuated or aided the evacuation of around 111,900 people. Since the end of July, 117,500 people have fled the war-torn country.

Taylor said the US would continue to conduct counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

"Without specifying any future plans, I will say that we will continue to have the ability to defend ourselves," he said. Taylor acknowledged the Pentagon would leverage its "over-the-horizon capability" to conduct strikes as needed from bases outside of Afghanistan.

"We’re going to defend ourselves," he added.

Following the attack, the Biden administration came under fire for coordinating security at the airport with the Taliban, also a militant Islamic group.

ISIS-K considers the Taliban, noted for its brutality, to be insufficiently devout in its adherence to Islam. Both militant groups have attacked one another.

The Taliban deployed extra forces around Kabul’s airport to prevent large crowds from gathering after a deadly suicide attack two days earlier. Other areas where large crowds amassed for the past two weeks were also largely empty over fears of another strike.

Kirby said the US did not share any information about the airstrike on the ISIS targets with the Taliban.

The massive US-led airlift is winding down ahead of an August 31 deadline, with many allies having completed their operations. However, the Pentagon said about 600 American citizens currently remain in Afghanistan.

The Taliban added and strengthened checkpoints on roads to the airport following Thursday's attack. The path to the airport is manned by uniformed fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles that the militant group captured from Afghan security forces.

Biden is scheduled to meet with his national security team at the White House on Saturday, just hours after a US drone strike killed a vital member of the terrorist group behind a deadly airport bombing in Kabul.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will huddle with national security officials at 11 am to hear intelligence, security and diplomatic updates on the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the White House said.

Names and other details of the 13 US service members killed in Thursday's Kabul airport attack became public on Friday through family and friends:

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Missouri

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Laredo, Texas

Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside County, California

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Daggett County, Utah

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Red Oak, Iowa

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee


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