In addressing the nation on Thursday, President Biden expressed his resolve to not let the airport attack in Afghanistan stop evacuations even as US troops track down and punish the forces responsible. "To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget," Biden said. "We will hunt you down and make you pay." The explosions in Kabul killed 13 US troops and at least 60 Afghans, Defense Department officials said. The president also said he might send more troops, USA Today reports, though the Pentagon has not asked for that.
"I've instructed the military, whatever they need—if they need additional force—I will grant it," Biden said from the White House. For now, he suggested, military officials want to concentrate on the mission of removing Americans and others from Afghanistan. Other aspects the president addressed include:
- The attack response. Biden said he's asked the military to plan a counterattack on ISIS-K, which claimed it's responsible for the airport explosions, per the New York Times. The terrorist group had been planning an operation for weeks, he said. "We will respond with force of precision at our time, place, we choose in a moment of our choosing," Biden said, adding, "America will not be intimidated."
- The casualties. "These American service members who gave their lives … they were heroes," Biden said, per the Washington Post, undertaking a mission to save others. The US will honor its "sacred obligation" to the families of the US troops killed, he said. Referring to his wife, Biden said, "Jill and I, our hearts ache, like I'm sure yours do as well."
- The Taliban's role. Biden defended counting on the Taliban to provide security outside the Kabul airport, per NPR. "It's in their self-interest that we leave when we said and that we get as many people out as we can," he said. Biden said he's not been shown any evidence that the Taliban colluded with ISIS on the attack.
- Presidential responsibility. "The former president made a deal with the Taliban," Biden said when asked about whether he bears responsibility for the worsening situation in Afghanistan. Former President Trump had agreed with the Taliban that US forces would be out by May. But Biden also conceded, "I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late."
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