Live Updates: Pentagon Holds News Briefing Day After Deadly Kabul Attack

Live Updates

Pentagon officials held a news conference Friday as the U.S. enters the final days of its Afghanistan airlift in the wake of Thursday's deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport.

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby and Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor, deputy director for regional operations, led the press conference.

Taylor announced that contradictory to yesterday's reports, the Pentagon now believes that there was only one explosion during the attack at Abbey gate. Previous reports said that an explosion also occurred near the Baron Hotel.

About 12,500 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in the last 24-hour period, Taylor said, bringing the total evacuated since the effort began up to around 111,000. More than 300 American citizens were among the evacuated, bringing that total up to 5,1000.

Taylor also estimated that 5,400 people were still awaiting evacuation near the Kabul airport.

Kirby affirmed that despite the attack, the U.S. is still planning on ending the Afghanistan mission at the end of August. Because "lives are going to be the priority" in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, some U.S. equipment and materials may be left in the country, Kirby said.

However, those materials will be "disposed of" in a responsible way.

The live updates for this event have ended.

U.S. Army Major Gen. William Taylor
U.S. Army Major General William Taylor and Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby held a news conference Friday, the day after the deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Taylor participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon on August 23, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Reports of Bottlenecks at Dulles Airport 'Have Proven Accurate," Kirby Says

Pentagon Press Secretary said that reports of bottlenecks at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia, which were causing incoming Kabul evacuation flights to sit on the tarmac for hours, "have proven accurate."

"It's really more an issue for Customs and Border Patrol and the process, so I don't want to speak to them or their process," Kirby said.

He said that to his understanding, they "have worked through the difficulties" and wait times upon arrival are "going to get much, much shorter."

Department of Defense Authorizes 3 Extra Military Bases to Support Afghanistan Mission

The Department of Defense authorized three additional U.S. military bases to aid the U.S. evacuation effort from Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday.

The three bases are the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Fort Pickett, Virginia, and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

These bases will "provide additional support to the US mission to evacuate Afghans, special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other at risk individuals," Kirby said.

Just Under 7,000 Afghan SIVs Being Processed in U.S., Kirby Says

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby estimated that there are just under 7,000 Afghans under special immigrant visas applications, or SIVs, being processed in the United States.

"And that number will change every day, obviously, as it should," Kirby said.

U.S. Not Sure of Exact Location of Kabul Explosion

Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor said that the U.S. still isn't sure where the explosion took place by Abbey gate, but said it was "at or around" the area.

He said that the U.S. continues to believe a suicide bomber carried out the attack, and there were also shooters adding gunfire to the attack.

Kabul Airport Will Be Left Operational At End of U.S. Withdrawal

The Kabul airport is currently operational and the U.S. plans to keep it operational up until they leave the country, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

"We're going to need it to continue to function right up until the very end," he said.

Kirby added that Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned the other day that some other members of the international community want to collaborate with the Taliban to keep the airport operational after the U.S. is gone.

Some U.S. Equipment, Materials May Be Left in Afghanistan Because Lives Are 'Priority'

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that because "lives are going to be the priority" in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, some U.S. equipment and materials may be left in the country.

This is to "prioritize passenger seats" as many are still awaiting evacuations before the Aug. 31 deadline draws to a close, Kirby said. Things left behind will be "disposed of" in a responsible way.

U.S Still Believes There Are 'Credible Threats' in Afghanistan

After the deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that the U.S. is "being as anticipatory as possible" because "we still believe there are credible threats."

"In fact, I'd say specific, credible threats, and we want to make sure we're prepared for those," Kirby said.

Kirby did not elaborate on the nature of those threats, but General Kenneth McKenzie said during a Department of Defense briefing Thursday that there is still a "real" and "imminent" threat from the group ISIS-K.

U.S. Not Certain 'At All" Taliban Had No Involvement in Kabul Attack

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said that the U.S. has "not been certain" that the Taliban wasn't involved in Thursday's Kabul attack when probed by a reporter how they could be sure that the group didn't play a part in the events.

While the U.S. has warned of further attacks from ISIS-K, despite there being no official confirmation that they were the group responsible, Kirby asserted that there would be an investigation.

U.S. 'Still Planning' to End Afghanistan Mission at End of August

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a press conference Friday that the U.S. is still planning on ending the Afghanistan mission at the end of August.

As they get closer to the deadline, the U.S. will "begin to make those muscle movements to pull out our troops, and some of our equipment as appropriate with any retrograde," Kirby said.

He added that it would be a "balance" between continuing evacuations and pulling U.S. troops and equipment from the country.

U.S. Evacuated 12,500 in 24-Hour Period from Kabul

Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor said during a Pentagon briefing Friday that the U.S. evacuated 12,500 people from Afghanistan in a 24-hour period.

More than 300 American citizens were evacuated in that period, bringing the total to about 5,100, he said. About 111,000 people total were evacuated since the effort began.

Additionally, he estimated that 5,400 people were still awaiting evacuation near the Kabul airport.

Pentagon Does Not Believe There Was Second Explosion Near Baron Hotel in Kabul Thursday

Army Maj. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor said during a Pentagon briefing Thursday that the Pentagon believes that there was not a second explosion during the attack on Kabul in Afghanistan Thursday.

Previous reports said that explosions occurred near Abbey gate and the Baron Hotel, but the Pentagon believes there was only one explosion near Abbey gate.

"We're not sure how that report was provided incorrect, but we do know it's not any surprise that in the confusion of very dynamic events like this can cause information sometimes to be misreported or garbled," Taylor said.