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Biden vows to avenge US deaths, complete evacuation

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 U.S. President Biden vowed on Thursday to complete the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan despite the deadly suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport. He also promised to avenge the deaths, declaring to the extremists responsible:

He said he had instructed military commanders to develop plans to strike IS “assets, leadership, and facilities. “We will hunt you down and make you pay”.

Speaking with emotion from the White House, Biden said the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate was to blame for the attacks that killed 12 American service members and many more Afghan civilians. Biden praised U.S. forces and asked for a moment of silence in honor of those killed.

He said there was no evidence they colluded with the Taliban, who now control the country.

“We have some reason to believe we know who they are,” he said of the bombers and gunmen involved. “Not certain.”

“We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place of our choosing,” Biden said, adding, “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans; we will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”

Biden said U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have told him it is important to complete the evacuation mission. “And we will,” he said, adding, “We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission.”

As many as 1,000 Americans and many more Afghans are still struggling to get out of Kabul.

The administration has been widely blamed for a chaotic and deadly evacuation that began in earnest only after the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the Taliban’s takeover of the country. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated so far, Afghans, Americans, and others.

Thursday’s attacks were sure to intensify political pressure from all sides on Biden, who already was under heavy criticism for not beginning the pullout earlier. He had announced in April that he was ending the U.S. war and would have all forces out by September.

As details of the attacks emerged, the White House rescheduled Biden’s first in-person meeting with Israel’s new prime minister on Thursday and canceled a video conference with governors about resettling Afghan refugees arriving in the United States.

A number of U.S. allies said they were ending their evacuation efforts in Kabul, at least in part to give the U.S. the time it needs to wrap up its evacuation operations before getting more than 5,000 U.S. troops out by Tuesday.

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