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Gen. McKenzie said the US will keep evacuating all Americans and allies despite Kabul bombings: 'ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing that mission'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/26/2021 jepstein@insider.com (Jake Epstein,Eliza Relman)
a group of people standing around a plane: People evacuate Kabul airport. Fatimah Hossaini © Provided by Business Insider People evacuate Kabul airport. Fatimah Hossaini
  • The US will continue to evacuate Americans and allies despite multiple deadly bombings outside the Kabul airport.
  • Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, said the US will continue its mission.
  • "The plan is designed to operate under stress and under attack," he told reporters on Thursday.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The US will continue to evacuate Americans and allies despite multiple deadly bombings outside the Kabul airport, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the US Central Command, said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"We're continuing to execute the mission. Our mission is to evacuate US citizens, third-country nationals, special immigrant Visa holders, US embassy staff, and Afghans at risk. Despite this attack, we are continuing this mission," he said. "To do anything less - especially now - would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan."

McKenzie said US troops are continuing to bring people onto the airfield and will keep processing and evacuating people through the original military withdrawal date of August 31.

"The plan is designed to operate under stress and under attack," he said. "And we will coordinate to make sure it's safe for American citizens to come to the airfield. If it's not, we'll tell them to hold and work other ways to get them to the airport. We'll continue to flow them out until the end of the month."


Video: Pentagon: Multiple U.S. Service Members Killed In Kabul Airport Explosions (Newsweek)

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He added: "ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing that mission."

At least 12 US service members and at least 60 Afghans were killed in dual attacks on Thursday at Hamid Karzai International Airport, where crowds of people had gathered, desperate to evacuate Afghanistan since the Taliban took over. Fifteen additional US service members were injured and at least 140 Afghans were injured in the explosions, according to Afghan officials. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly blasts in a Thursday statement.

McKenzie said the threat from ISIS remains "extremely real" and he expects attacks against US troops and Afghans will continue.

President Joe Biden's decision to pull all US forces out of Afghanistan by the end of the month has been broadly criticized by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, has insisted that the military should stay in the country "as long as is necessary to get all US persons out, and to meet our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners."

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