Rockets fired at Kabul airport; US drone strike hits suspected suicide bombers, civilians in Kabul

US air defense system on Monday morning intercepted at least five rockets fired at Kabul airport where thousands of US troops are still stationed, reported Reuters, as troops are racing to wind their presence

Aug 30, 2021
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Rockets fired at Kabul airport

US air defense system on Monday morning intercepted at least five rockets fired at Kabul airport where thousands of US troops are still stationed, reported Reuters, as troops are racing to wind their presence. So far no casualties are reported in the attack. 

The rocket attack came after a drone strike by US forces on Sunday hit a vehicle suspected of carrying suicide bombers who posed an “imminent” threat to the withdrawing US troops in Kabul airport, US military confirmed last evening, adding the explosions followed by the strikes may have caused “additional casualties”. 

“U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International Airport," Captain Bill Urban, US CENTCOM spokesman, said. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesperson, also confirmed the strike.

The strike, which happened in Kabul’s residential area, have killed at least nine civilians, including six children, a report in CNN said, citing a relative of the dead. 

"We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home -- where my brothers lived with their families," a brother of one of those killed was quoted in the report. The youngest among the dead was a 2-year-old girl. They were just “an ordinary family”, the brother said. 

Acknowledging the reports of civilian casualties, US CentComm in a statement said, "We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties.”

 “It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further," he added. 

The strike came on Sunday after US President Joe Biden had warned of another suicide bombing attack in Kabul airport, asking US nationals to stay away from the airport. 

Last week, around 170 Afghans and 13 US service personnel were killed in a suicide bombing attack near the North Gate of the airport. Quoting eyewitnesses, a report in BBC said, "several people" have died because of the indiscriminate firing by US troops that followed the explosion. 

Since then, the US has strikes ISIS-K targets twice; First in Kunar, a northeastern province in Afghanistan; Second in Kabul on Sunday.  
 
Withdrawal is always the riskiest part of any operation as withdrawing troops face the threat of attack in the absence of security cover. Multiple intelligence assessments confirmed the US troops face the threat of rocket attacks by suspected ISIS-K militants in Kabul. 

The Taliban, at this stage, appears to be incapable of providing security to withdrawing US troops.  

(SAM)