Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights: US Drone Strike Targets ISIS "Planner" In Afghanistan: Pentagon

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis: US President Joe Biden has vowed to "hunt" down the terrorists and make them "pay" for the Kabul blast outside the Kabul airport

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights: US Drone Strike Targets ISIS 'Planner' In Afghanistan: Pentagon

Kabul Blast: Two blasts and gunfire rocked the area outside the airport on Thursday evening

The US military said Friday it had carried out a drone strike against a "planner" of the Islamic State-Khorasan, the group which claimed credit for the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

"The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target," said Captain Bill Urban of the Central Command.

"We know of no civilian casualties," he added in a statement.

US forces helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule were on alert for more attacks on Friday after at least one Islamic State suicide bomber killed 170 people including 13 US soldiers outside the gates of Kabul airport.

Two blasts and gunfire rocked the area outside the airport on Thursday evening, witnesses said. Video shot by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies strewn around a canal on the edge of the airport.

The Taliban said the two blasts killed between 13 and 20 people. A health official in the previous government said the count is at least 85.

President Joe Biden has vowed to "hunt" down the terrorists and make them "pay" for the deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport in which 13 US service members were killed and 18 others wounded. 

Here are the highlights on Afghanistan-Taliban crisis:

Aug 29, 2021 06:08 (IST)
US Still In Charge Of Kabul Airport, Troops Retrograding: Pentagon

The US military has "begun retrograding" from the Kabul airport and it's "still in charge of the airport" and the security, Pentagon said on Saturday. Read Here
Aug 29, 2021 05:38 (IST)
France, UK To Urge UN For Creation Of Safe Zone In Kabul: Emmanuel Macron

France and Britain will on Monday urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a "safe zone" in the Afghan capital Kabul to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said. Read Here
Aug 29, 2021 02:27 (IST)
Drone Strike Killed 2 High Profile ISIS Targets In Afghanistan, Says US

The US took aim at the ISIS group in Afghanistan on Saturday, killing two high-level targets in retaliation for a deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport, where the airlift of those desperate to flee Taliban rule moved into its final fraught stages. Read Here
Aug 29, 2021 01:12 (IST)
Last British civilian evacuation flight leaves Kabul

The last British flight evacuating civilians from Afghanistan has left Kabul, bringing to an end an operation that has airlifted more than 15,000 Afghans, Britons and other foreign nationals in the two weeks since the Taliban took control.

Britain's armed forces are now preparing to leave and will take small numbers of Afghan citizens with them on remaining flights this weekend, a defence ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.

"It's time to close this phase of the operation down. But we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave, and we will do everything we can to help them," Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, said in a statement filmed on the tarmac at Kabul's main airport.

Some British troops have already departed, and a British military transport plane carrying armed forces members landed at an airbase in southern England on Saturday.
Aug 28, 2021 17:28 (IST)
No Public Appearance And 1 Photograph, The Low Profile Taliban Chief Hibatullah Akhundzada
In the days since taking power in Afghanistan, a wide range of Taliban figures have entered Kabul -- hardened commandos, armed madrassa students and greying leaders back from years of exile."
Aug 28, 2021 15:03 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis LIVE Updates: UN issues urgent appeal to help drought-hit Afghan farmers
The United Nations issued an urgent appeal Saturday for aid for some seven million Afghan farmers in the war-ravaged nation facing the threat of severe drought.

Covid-19 has further squeezed agricultural workers in the country, which is now controlled by the Taliban after they toppled the US-backed government this month.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization said the farmers worst affected by a drought in the country are among some 14 million people -- or one in three Afghans -- who are "acutely food insecure and need urgent humanitarian assistance".

"Urgent agricultural support now is key to counter the impact of the drought and a worsening situation in Afghanistan's vast rural areas in the weeks and months ahead," FAO director Qu Dongyu said in a statement.

Afghanistan is facing its second severe drought in three years and the UN said this week it could run out of its staple wheat flour from October.

"If we fail to assist the people most affected by the acute drought, large numbers will be forced to abandon their farms and be displaced in certain areas," Qu added.

"This threatens to further deepen food insecurity and poses yet another threat to the stability of Afghanistan."

The organisation said it was facing a funding shortfall of $18 million (15 million euros) to support its drought response plan in Afghanistan.

It is hoping to help 250,000 families, or around 1.5 million people, for the upcoming winter wheat season.

But the funding shortfall means only 110,000 families can be supported.

The appeal comes as humanitarian organisations fear the Taliban's arrival could hamper access for aid deliveries and personnel.

The UN warned earlier this week that low supplies of food aid were threatening to plunge Afghanistan into a humanitarian disaster.

AFP
Aug 28, 2021 13:57 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis LIVE Updates: Macron warns against IS as Afghanistan overshadows Iraq summit
French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the threat the Islamic State group poses ahead of an Iraqi summit Saturday overshadowed by the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and a deadly bombing in Kabul.

Organisers have been tight-lipped on the agenda of the summit in Baghdad, but the meeting also comes as Iraq, long a casualty of jihadist militancy, tries to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran.

"We all know that we must not lower our guard, because Daesh (IS) remains a threat, and I know that the fight against these terrorist groups is a priority of your government," Macron said, after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi in Baghdad.

Iraq and France "are key partners in the war against terrorism," Kadhemi replied.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II are due at the summit, while the foreign ministers of regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia will also be present.

The prime minster of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, as well as Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah are also expected to attend.

AFP
Aug 28, 2021 13:04 (IST)
No Public Appearance And 1 Photograph, The Low Profile Taliban Chief Hibatullah Akhundzada
In the days since taking power in Afghanistan, a wide range of Taliban figures have entered Kabul -- hardened commandos, armed madrassa students and greying leaders back from years of exile."
Aug 28, 2021 12:34 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis: British Ex-Marine With 200 Animals Survived Kabul Attack
Paul 'Pen' Farthing, a British former Royal Marine who runs an animal shelter in Kabul, Afghanistan, says he was denied entry to the airport due to a change in paperwork rules. The 52-year-old blamed US President Joe Biden, saying he "went through hell" to reach the airport and was turned away as the US government had changed paperwork rules just two hours earlier. The ex-Royal Marine was caught up in the deadly explosions outside Kabul airport in which dozens of people were killed on Thursday evening.

Read more
Aug 28, 2021 12:13 (IST)
Future Of Kabul Airport Subject Of Intense Negotiations
Who will ultimately run the airport in Kabul after US forces leave? That question -- a vital one for Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers but also for Western nations still hoping to evacuate everyone eligible -- is the subject of intense and complex talks.
Aug 28, 2021 12:08 (IST)
Didn't Need To Happen: US Pentagon Seeks Answers For Kabul Attack
By Wednesday night, U.S. intelligence agencies were near certain that an attack was imminent outside Kabul airport, triggering a State Department warning to American citizens to leave the area immediately.
Aug 28, 2021 11:05 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis LIVE Updates: Future of Kabul airport subject of intense negotiations
Who will ultimately run the airport in Kabul after US forces leave? That question -- a vital one for Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers but also for Western nations still hoping to evacuate everyone eligible -- is the subject of intense and complex talks.

Next week, on September 1, Hamid Karzai International Airport will be under the control of the hardline Islamists, who already on Friday claimed to have moved into certain areas of the military side of the facility.

"We are departing by August 31. Upon that date, we are delivering -- we're essentially giving the airport back to the Afghan people," State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday, cutting off speculation about the possibility of it falling into international hands.

However, the Afghan government collapsed in the face of the Taliban advance on Kabul, and now the onetime insurgents are in power but still haven't even formed a government.

"Running an airport is not an uncomplicated piece of business," Price said. "I think that it is probably unreasonable to expect that there will be normal airport operations on September 1."

The idea that the airport could be temporarily closed was raised on Wednesday by his boss, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He said there had been "very active efforts" by countries in the region to see whether they could help keep it open "or, as necessary, reopening it if it closes for some period of time."

Blinken insisted that the fate of the airport was important to the Taliban, who did not want to find themselves once again heading a pariah regime, as they did from 1996 to 2001.

The Islamists are especially hoping to see humanitarian aid quickly flow into the country.

AFP
Aug 28, 2021 10:50 (IST)
Pulitzer Prize Board Awards Special Citation To Honour Courageous Journalists Of Afghanistan
The Pulitzer Prize Board awarded a special citation to journalists of Afghanistan "from staff and freelance correspondents to interpreters to drivers to hosts" -- on Friday for their "courageous" work.
Aug 28, 2021 10:18 (IST)

Aug 28, 2021 09:21 (IST)
Taliban Will Shut Down Media, Afghan Photographer Warns
The Taliban will shut down Afghanistan's media and are fooling the West by promising to let journalists operate freely, an award-winning Afghan photographer said after fleeing Kabul over threats by the group.
Aug 28, 2021 07:32 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis: US Drone Strike Targets ISIS 'Planner' In Afghanistan: Pentagon
The US military said Friday it had carried out a drone strike against a "planner" of the Islamic State-Khorasan, the group which claimed credit for the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport.
Aug 28, 2021 07:20 (IST)
Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates: US on alert for further Kabul attacks in race to complete evacuations
US forces helping evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule were on alert for more attacks on Friday after an Islamic State suicide bombing outside Kabul airport killed at least 92 people, including 13 U.S service members.

The White House said the next few days of an ongoing U.S evacuation operation that the Pentagon said has taken about 111,000 people out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks are likely to be the most dangerous.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States believes there are still "specific, credible" threats against the airport after the bombing at one of its gates."We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts," Kirby told reporters in Washington.

Reuters
Aug 28, 2021 07:18 (IST)
Afghanistan Crisis LIVE Updates: UK says more can be done for Afghans who have arrived in Britain
The British government acknowledged that more can be done to help and assist Afghan nationals and their families settle in Britain as they escape from Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban.

Britain earlier announced plans to welcome up to 5,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban during the first year of a new resettlement programme that will prioritise women, girls and religious and other minorities.

"Approximately only 5% of councils have declined to sign up to our relocation and assistance scheme and close to a third of councils have already stepped up to support new arrivals, but we know there is more that can be done for those that have risked their lives supporting us", a UK government spokesperson said in an emailed statement late on Friday.

"This is why we are calling on all councils who have not yet come forward with a firm offer of support to help Afghan nationals and their families as they build a new life here in safety", the spokesperson said.

The Telegraph newspaper reported earlier that around 30 councils have refused to take any Afghan refugees who have arrived in the UK after fleeing the Taliban.

REUTERS
Aug 28, 2021 07:04 (IST)
France ends its evacuations from Afghanistan: Minister

France ended its air evacuations from Afghanistan late Friday after bringing around 3,000 people out of the country, Defence Minister Florence Parly announced.

"Operation Apagan, begun on August 15 at the request of the president, ended this evening. In less than two weeks, the French military has brought some 3,000 people to safety, including more than 2,600 Afghans," Parly tweeted.
Aug 28, 2021 06:41 (IST)
We Will Transfer Kabul Airport Back To Afghan People: US State Department

The United States will transfer Kabul airport back to the Afghan people, said State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday. Read Here
Aug 28, 2021 06:23 (IST)
No Quick Recognition Of Taliban Government By US Or Allies: White House
The United States on Friday dismissed any chance of rapid recognition for a Taliban government and said it has not decided yet whether it will maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after next week's troop withdrawal. Read Here