President Joe Biden honored the 12 U.S. service members who lost their lives in two bombings near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday (August 26) with a moment of silence during a speech from the White House. It was the first time since February 2020 that a U.S. service member died in Afghanistan.
"May God bless you all, and may God protect the troops and all those standing watch for America," he said.
He praised them for their heroic efforts in trying to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
"These American service members who gave their lives, it's an overused word, but it's totally appropriate here, were heroes; heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous selfless mission to save the lives of others," Biden said. "They are a part of an airlift and evacuation effort unlike any seen in history with more than 100,000 American citizens, American partners, Afghans who helped us, and others taken to safety in the last 11 days."
In addition to the 12 service members who lost their lives, 15 others were wounded in the attack. Dozens of Afghan civilians were also killed and left at least 140 people injured. The terror group ISIS-K took responsibility for the two bombings.
Biden said that the United States will continue to evacuate the roughly 1,000 American citizens who remain in Afghanistan.
"Our mission is to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals, Special Immigrant Visa holders, U.S. embassy staff, and Afghans at risk. Despite this attack, we are continuing the mission, the evacuation at best speed," he said.
Biden said that he will send more U.S. troops into Afghanistan if it is necessary.
"I've instructed the military with whatever they need if they need additional force, I will grant it. But the military, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Chiefs, the commanders in the field, have all contacted me one way or another usually by letter saying they subscribe to the mission as designed," Biden said.
President Biden revealed that he has ordered the military "to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities." He did not say when those attacks will take place.
"We will respond with force and precision in our time, in a place we choose in a manner of our choosing," Biden said. "These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on," the President said. "America will not be intimidated."
"We will hunt you down and make you pay."