US strikes Daesh targets in Afghanistan, pushes airlift into final stage

1. Afghanistan
Afghans, hoping to leave Afghanistan, queue at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28, 2021. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)
KABUL  — The United States killed two "high profile" Daesh targets with a drone strike in Afghanistan on Saturday, as the airlift of those desperate to flee moved into its fraught final stages with fresh terror attack warnings and Taliban forces primed to take over Kabul airport.اضافة اعلان

US forces overseeing the evacuation have been forced into closer security cooperation with the Taliban to prevent any repeat of the suicide bombing that killed scores of civilians crowded around one of the airport's main access gates and 13 American troops.

The attack was claimed by a regional Daesh chapter, and the Pentagon said it had killed two "high profile" targets and wounded another from the terrorist group with a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby they were Daesh “planners and facilitators", adding: "The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing."

With the airlift window narrowing sharply ahead of an August 31 deadline, more than 5,000 people remained inside Kabul airport awaiting evacuation on Saturday.

Gone are the crowds of thousands around the airport's perimeter, hoping to be let through and allowed onto a plane.

Now, the Taliban have sealed off roads leading to the airport and are only letting sanctioned buses pass.

"We have lists from the Americans. ... If your name is on the list, you can come through," one Taliban official told AFP near the civilian passenger terminal.
The carnage of Thursday's suicide attack injected further stress and tension into a situation already fraught with panic and despair for those wanting to leave and high risk for the US forces tasked with securing the operation.

Refugee exodus

Under enormous criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the Afghan crisis and the US military withdrawal, Biden has pledged to stick to the airlift deadline and punish those responsible for the suicide blast.

About 112,000 people have been flown out of the country since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept to power, according to the US government.

On Saturday Taliban fighters escorted a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to US troops for evacuation.

Many Western allies have announced an end to their airlifts, with some admitting that at-risk Afghans eligible for evacuation had been left behind.

The UN said it was bracing for a "worst-case scenario" of up to half a million more refugees from Afghanistan by the end of 2021.

The Taliban have promised a softer brand of rule compared with their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, which ended when the US invaded Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But many Afghans fear a repeat of their brutal rule, as well as reprisals against those working with foreign militaries, Western missions or the previous US-backed government.

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