Iran Condemns Kabul Bombings, Russia Questions US over Daesh Links

Iran has strongly condemned terrorist explosions that tore through crowds of people outside Kabul airport, where countries race to evacuate as many people as possible before an August 31 deadline to completely withdraw their troops.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denounced the targeting of defenseless Afghans, and slammed any terrorist move against women, men, youths and children in the Muslim country.

Khatibzadeh expressed hope that an inclusive government would soon be established in Afghanistan, so that relevant organizations and institutions could assume their responsibilities to protect people’s lives and properties.

On Thursday evening, two bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans that had flocked to Kabul airport following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

At least 90 civilians were killed in the two powerful explosions, Afghan medical sources said. US officials said at least 13 US soldiers were also killed in Thursday’s blasts.

An unnamed Taliban official told Reuters news agency on Friday that at least 28 members of the group perished in the bombings, vowing to beef up security at the Kabul airport to prevent future terrorist attacks.

The blasts outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul were claimed by an offshoot of Daesh terrorist group in Afghanistan, which said its bombers singled out “translators and collaborators with the American army.”

General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said Friday US commanders were watching for more attacks by Deash, including possibly rockets or car-bombs targeting the airport.

"We're doing everything we can to be prepared," he said, adding that some intelligence was being shared with the Taliban and that he believed "some attacks have been thwarted by them."

The United States will press on with evacuations despite the threat of further attacks, McKenzie said, noting that there were still about 1,000 US citizens in Afghanistan.

The pace of evacuation flights had accelerated on Friday and American passport holders had been allowed to enter the airport compound, according to a Western security official stationed inside the airport.

In the past 12 days, Western countries have evacuated nearly 100,000 people. But they acknowledge that thousands will be left behind when the last US troops leave at the end of the month.

The American casualties in Thursday's attack were believed to be the most US troops killed in Afghanistan in a single incident since 30 personnel died when a helicopter was shot down in 2011.  

The US deaths were the first in action in Afghanistan in 18 months, a fact likely to be cited by critics who accuse Biden of recklessly abandoning without a plan.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the threat of attacks would increase as Western troops got closer to completing the huge airlift and leaving.

"The narrative is always going to be, as we leave, certain groups such as ISIS will want to stake a claim that they have driven out the US or the UK," Wallace told Sky News. He also vowed action against Daesh wherever it manifests itself.

US President Joe Biden also pledged to retaliate against the bombings in Kabul.

“We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests in our people with every measure at my command,” he said.

Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova raised the question whether the US is aware about the location of leadership and facilities of Daesh terrorists in Afghanistan.

“So, the US knew where the Daesh leadership and facilities were?!” she wrote on her Telegram channel.

Zakharova made the remarks after Biden stressed that he had given orders to prepare strikes on Daesh “assets, leadership and terrorists” following the deadly attacks near the Kabul airport.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also deplored “the heinous attack in the strongest terms.”

“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives after today’s attack in Kabul,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet later on Thursday.

“We strongly condemn this heinous terror attack. Express my condolences to the families of those killed & my wishes for a speedy recovery to those wounded,” he added.

Egypt also affirmed its denunciation of all forms of terrorism, violence and extremism. In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed its “firm condemnation” of the blasts.

On Twitter, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad “strongly condemned” the “heinous” terrorist attacks at Kabul airport.

“We condemn terrorism in all forms & manifestations, convey our condolences to bereaved families & pray for early recovery of the injured,” he said.