President Joe Biden on Thursday pledged retaliation against a militant group after a pair of explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens others.
He gave remarks in the East Room of the White House hours after the attack at the Abbey Gate and a hotel near the airport where the United States and other countries worked to evacuate foreign nationals and Afghan civilians vulnerable to Taliban rule.
The United States, Britain and Australia had warned citizens to stay away from the airport due to “credible threats” warning of an impending terrorist attack by militants of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, a self-proclaimed offshoot of the IS, which has denied affiliation with the Afghan-based militant group.
Biden on Thursday said he has ordered commanders to develop operational plans to strike the IS-K’s assets leadership and facilities.
“We will respond with force and precision at our time at the place we choose in the moment of our choosing,” he said.
Biden added the United States has “some reason to believe” they know the leaders behind the attack and that the United States will find means to “get them wherever they are” without a large military operation.”
“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, we will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.
Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, initially confirmed that 12 service members died.
CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban announced later Thursday that a 13th service member died from his injuries in the attack on Abbey Gate. He said 18 service members were injured.
Marines Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said of the dead, 10 were Marines.