US missile defenses intercepted up to five rockets that were fired at Kabul airport early Monday, a US official said, as the United States rushed to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan to end its longest war.
Having evacuated some 114,400 people, including foreign nationals and Afghans considered “at-risk”, in an effort that began the day before Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, US and allied forces will complete their own withdrawal before Tuesday’s deadline. coincided with the Islamist militants.
The number of US troops at the airport had fallen below 4,000 over the weekend, as departures became more urgent after an Islamic State suicide bomb attack outside the gates on Thursday killed dozens of Afghans. and 13 American soldiers.
Afghan media said Monday’s rocket attack was launched from the rear of a vehicle. The Pajhwok news agency said several rockets hit different parts of the Afghan capital Initial reports did not indicate any US casualties from the latest rocket attack, the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
In a statement, the White House said President Joe Biden reconfirmed his order that commanders do “whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground” after he was informed of the attack. Biden was informed that airport operations continued uninterrupted, he added.
On Sunday, a US drone strike killed a suicide car bomb that Pentagon officials said was preparing to attack the airport on behalf of ISIS-K, a local affiliate of the Islamic State that is an enemy of both the West and the United States. of the Taliban The US Central Command said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties from Sunday’s drone attack.
“We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions as a result of the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused more casualties,” he said.
The drone attack killed seven people, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told China’s CGTN state television on Monday, criticizing the US action on foreign soil as illegal.
It was the second such conviction after a US drone strike on Saturday killed two Islamic State militants in the eastern Nangarhar province, in an attack that the spokesperson said had injured two women and a child Despite all efforts by Western powers to evacuate as many people as possible, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans faced being left behind.
“We try all the options because our lives are in danger,” said a woman outside the airport. “They (the Americans or foreign powers) must show us a way to save us. We should either get out of Afghanistan or they should provide us with a safe place. ”
Two US officials told Reuters that evacuations would continue on Monday, prioritizing people considered at extreme risk. Other countries have also made last-minute requests to remove people from that category, officials said.
Biden attended a ceremony Sunday at Dover Air Force Base here in Delaware to honor members of the US military killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing.
As flag-dr*ped transfer coffins carrying the wreckage emerged from a military plane, the president, who vowed to avenge the Islamic State attack, closed his eyes and tilted his head back None of the fallen service members were older than 31, and five were only 20, as old as the war in Afghanistan.
The departure of the last troops will put an end to the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan that began in late 2001, following the September 11 attacks by Al Qaeda in the United States.
US-backed forces overthrew a Taliban government that had provided safe haven for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was eventually a**a**inated by US forces in Pakistan in 2011 and has engaged in a counter-insurgency war against the Islamist militants for the past two years. decades.
The Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 was marked by a harsh version of Islamic Sharia law, with many political rights and basic freedoms restricted two and severely oppressed women.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said that the group will announce a full cabinet in the coming days and that difficulties will disappear quickly once the new administration is established.
But with its economy ravaged by decades of war, Afghanistan now faces a sudden halt in the inflows of billions of dollars in foreign aid.