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Biden present as bodies of 13 American troops killed in Kabul attack return to US soil

Written by on 29/08/2021

US President Joe Biden is attending a military base as the bodies of 13 American troops killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul return to American soil.

The president and First Lady Jill Biden were due to be present at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday for the “dignified transfer” of the US service members and to meet with the families of those who died.

The American troops who died in Thursday’s attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital – for which Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K has been held responsible – ranged in age from 20 to 31.

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Biden flies to Delaware to honour 13 US troops

They included a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming who had been expecting his first child in three weeks, as well as a 22-year-old Navy corpsman who in his last FaceTime conversation with his mother assured her that he would stay safe because “my guys got me”.

Five were just 20, born not long before the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 that precipitated America and the West’s 20-year military intervention in Afghanistan.

Two British men and the teenage child of a third UK national were also among those killed in the terror attack, along with between 92 and 169 Afghans.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Biden paid tribute to the 13 service members as “heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others”.

More on Afghanistan

Aftermath of the explosion. Pic: @Ali2994078
Image: ISIS-K have been held responsible for Thursday’s attack. Pic: @Ali2994078

They died amid the chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan by the US and other Western nations – including the UK – following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban following Mr Biden’s withdrawal of US forces.

Mr Biden said the “bravery and selflessness” of US troops in Kabul had enabled more than 117,000 vulnerable people to reach safety.

And he also warned that another attack at Kabul’s airport remained “highly likely” this weekend as evacuation efforts come to an end.

The UK’s own evacuation effort ended on Friday night – with more than 1,000 eligible Afghans and 150 Britons feared to have been left behind – and the last remaining British troops have since begun to touch down in Britain after leaving Kabul for the last time.

Both Mr Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have faced severe criticism of their handling of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the subsequent evacuation as the country once more fell into the control of extremists.

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Last British troops return to UK from Kabul

In a message to all those who served in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, Mr Johnson has said: “Your suffering and your hardship were not in vain”.

But he also admitted the UK “would not have wished to leave in this way”.

Mr Johnson added: “We have to recognise that we came in with the United States in defence and support of the US, that the US did the overwhelming bulk of the fighting.

“And though we now leave with the US, we will remain represented in the region.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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