The head of Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, has confirmed that 12 US service members were killed in the Kabul airport attack and 15 more were injured.
He did not give a number for Afghan casualties, but added: “We’re still working to calculate the total losses.”
But McKenzie was adamant that the evacuation operation would continue, saying, “The plan is designed to operate while under stress, and under attack, and we will continue to do that, we will coordinate very carefully to make sure that it’s safe for American citizens to come to the airfield. If it’s not, we’ll tell them to hold.”
Gen McKenzie said the US military was now talking to the Taliban about improving security at the airport by widening the cordon around it.
“We’ve reached out to the Taliban, we’ve told them you need to continue to push out the security perimeter. We’ve identified some roads that we would like for them to close they’ve indicated that they’ll they will be willing to close those roads, because we assess the threat of a suicide borne vehicle threat is high right now, so we want to reduce the possibility of one of those vehicles getting close,” he said.
He pointed out that there are drones over the area, with experts constantly assessing the scene for threats, as well as helicopters and aircraft with good imaging systems.
McKenzie added, “Our mission remains. We’re still committed to flying people out, until we terminate operations at some point towards the end of the month.”
At least 12 US service members — 11 Marines and a Navy medic — have been killed in the Kabul explosions, two administration officials told the AP.