A US military statement confirmed that a US drone strike targeted the planning official in the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan, without naming him.
The statement added that the initial indications of the operation indicated that it resulted in killing the target.
In turn, “Fox News” channel quoted an official at the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) that the drone attack targeted a vehicle carrying the leader of the Islamic State in Khorasan.
The official noted the presence of another partner in the vehicle with the target, who is believed to have been involved in planning the Kabul attack.
Reuters reported that US President Joe Biden agreed to carry out the raid that targeted one of the leaders of the ISIS leader in Afghanistan.
For its part, the US embassy in Kabul advised its citizens at dawn on Saturday to avoid going to the airport in the Afghan capital due to security threats.
The embassy said in a statement that those at the Abi Gate, the East Gate, the North Gate or at the new Ministry of Interior gates should leave immediately.
On Friday, the White House reported that Joe Biden’s national security team told the president that another terrorist attack was likely in Kabul, and also warned that the next few days of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan would be the most dangerous.
According to a White House statement, Biden gave US commanders and military full authority to launch an operation against ISIS targets in Khorasan.
ISIS arose in Afghanistan after it announced its presence in Iraq and Syria in 2014, where former members of the Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to the leader of the organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and later joined by Afghans and defectors from the Taliban movement.
In 2015, the Islamic State officially recognized the establishment of a province in Khorasan, the name given to the lands that include parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia.
The organization is based in the mountainous Achin region of Nangarhar province, and has formed some sleeper cells in the capital and other areas, according to the United Nations.
The death toll from the bombing that targeted one of the gates of Kabul Airport – Thursday – rose to 175, in addition to wounding more than 200 others.
A Taliban official confirmed that at least 28 Taliban militants were killed in the blast.
In turn, the Pentagon announced the killing of 13 marines and the wounding of 18 others, and the British Foreign Office announced in a statement that 3 of its nationals were killed in Afghanistan – including a child – in the attack.
In a related context, Al-Jazeera correspondent quoted Afghan media as saying that Taliban militants are deployed in parts of the military side at Kabul Airport.
The reporter also reported that the Taliban movement has tightened security measures at the site of the Hamid Karzai airport bombing in the capital, Kabul, and intensified inspection procedures to include press crews as well.
In turn, the Afghan “Tolo News” channel reported, quoting an unnamed Taliban spokesman, as saying that “the Taliban are now controlling parts of Kabul Airport.”
Within minutes of these press reports, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that these news were “wrong.”
“I can confirm that the Taliban did not control any part of Kabul airport,” Kirby told a news conference. “These reports are baseless.”
He added that the Taliban are not responsible for any operations at the airport, and that all airport gates are not under their control, and the airport is still under the control of the US military.
The Pentagon spokesman stressed that the Taliban are in charge of securing the vicinity of Kabul Airport, while the airport itself and its gates are under the control of US forces until August 31, at the latest.
Two senior Taliban officials said on Friday that the movement’s forces have taken up their positions at Kabul airport, and are ready to take full control of it as soon as possible, within the next two days, once the US forces leave.
One of the prominent leaders stated that the Taliban forces had taken control of most of the airport, except for a small part where there are still Americans.
The other said, “Once the Americans are gone, they just have to give us the signal and we’ll take matters into their own hands. It could happen quickly, as soon as it could be at the beginning of the week.”
For his part, US President Joe Biden said that “evacuations from Kabul airport will continue despite Thursday’s suicide attack.”
Biden added in Friday’s statements – during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – that the US forces will continue this process, despite its danger.
He said, “The mission they are doing is dangerous and was accompanied by a significant loss in the ranks of the forces. It is also very important because they are continuing the evacuation operations, and they have evacuated 12,000 people during the past 24 hours.”
The US President confirmed that he held a meeting with military leaders on Friday morning, and obtained a detailed briefing on Thursday’s attacks, and on the measures taken to protect US forces while completing the task of evacuating American citizens and Afghan collaborators.
The United States has yet to make a decision on whether it will maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan at the request of the Taliban after its scheduled withdrawal ends Tuesday, and said Friday that it rejects any possibility of a quick recognition of the movement’s authority.
State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that Taliban officials told us very clearly during our conversations that they would like to see a US diplomatic presence.
In statements to reporters, Price added that Washington has not taken a decision in this regard yet.
For her part, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news conference, “I want to be very clear, there is no need to rush into any recognition by the United States or the international partners with whom we have discussed about the authority of the Taliban.”
Washington had said earlier that this recognition will depend on the nature of the future Afghan government, which wants the administration of President Joe Biden to include political players other than the Taliban, and also respect women’s rights and pledge to fight terrorism.
Meanwhile, the White House reported that Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told the president that another terrorist attack was likely in Kabul.
Sullivan also warned that the next few days of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan would be the most dangerous.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States still believes there are specific and credible threats to Kabul airport.
Kirby added that whatever the future conditions in Afghanistan, Washington will not have a military presence there after the evacuations are over.
He stressed that Washington will find several ways to help evacuate people from Afghanistan after the end of this month.
In a related context, Reuters quoted French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that France had ended the evacuation process from Kabul airport because of the inability to provide security.
Le Drian added that the employees of the French embassy in Kabul are currently in the UAE.
He confirmed that France will talk to Taliban officials to ensure that those who want to leave Afghanistan after the end of August are allowed.
For its part, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced the completion of the French evacuation from Kabul Airport.
She added that France would continue to assist the evacuation of those in need of protection.
The French Foreign Ministry stated that it had made contacts with the Taliban in Doha and Kabul regarding procedural issues regarding evacuations from Afghanistan.
For his part, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that representatives of the movement met with the French envoy, François Richer, and his accompanying delegation in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Shaheen added in a tweet that the meeting discussed political issues, as well as the current developments in Afghanistan.
He pointed out that the movement’s delegation told the French envoy that peace prevails in all parts of Afghanistan, that male and female students have returned to their schools, and that the media have returned to their work.
The Taliban spokesman also confirmed that every Afghan who holds documents has the right to travel abroad after reopening the civilian part of Kabul Airport.