Biden Says Drone Strike on ISIS-K Won't Be Last as Taliban Condemn Action

President Joe Biden said the airstrike that killed an ISIS-K planner will not be the United States' only form of retaliation for the attack that killed 13 U.S. armed service members at the Kabul international airport Thursday, as the Taliban condemned the U.S. strike.

In a statement released Saturday, Biden said the threat of another attack at the airport in the next 24 to 36 hours remains "highly likely" and that he has directed commanders to take every measure to prioritize the safety of U.S. troops

"They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel," he said in the statement.

He pledged to "hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay."

"Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond," the statement reads. "That will never be in doubt."

Authorities have also discussed plans to help people continue to leave after the military departs on the August 31 deadline, according to the statement.

Biden addressed the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in the ISIS-K attack, calling them "heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others."

"Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far," Biden said. "May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days."

The Taliban have been fighting ISIS-K since 2018. But on Saturday, the Taliban condemned the U.S. strike. Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that the group considers the operation a "clear attack on Afghan territory."

Mujahid also appealed to the U.S. and other Western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after their withdrawal, and vowed the steep declines of the nation's currency would be temporary.

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the likelihood of another attack at the Kabul airport remains high in the next 24 to 36 hours. Here, he addresses the nation following the attack that killed 13 U.S. armed service members. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Mujahid also told Reuters that the Taliban would announce a new government in Afghanistan in the coming weeks and that officials have been appointed to run key institutions.

The airstrike, carried out by an unmanned drone, resulted in no known civilian casualties. It came Friday, less than 48 hours after a suicide bombing killed 13 military service members and more than 160 Afghans.

ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K), a regional branch of the Islamic State terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban condemned the attack.

"The Islamic Emirate is very concerned about the security and protection of its people," Mujahid said on Twitter. "The evil circles will be stopped in full force."

In light of the attack, the Biden administration is facing increased criticism. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said Saturday the attack has slowed evacuations "to a crawl," while Florida Representative Michael Waltz said Biden "gave all our bases away."

The U.S. continues to evacuate U.S. personnel and Afghans from Kabul. The White House said Saturday that between August 27 and August 28, about 6,800 people were evacuated.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment on the Taliban's response, but has not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.