August 27 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:01 PM ET, Mon August 30, 2021
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11:08 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

US military conducts airstrike against ISIS-K planner

From CNN's Jamie Crawford and Oren Liebermann

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the terror attack outside Kabul International Airport, on Thursday, August 26.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the terror attack outside Kabul International Airport, on Thursday, August 26. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The US has conducted an airstrike against an ISIS-K planner, Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban said in a statement.

"US military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties," the statement said.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with US Central Command’s corrected spelling of the Nangarhar Province.

9:30 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Parents of US Navy corpsman killed in Kabul share their son's last words

From CNN's Catherine Carter and Paul P. Murphy

US Navy corpsman Maxton Soviak died in Thursday's bombing outside Kabul International Airport, the family told CNN in a statement. 

"He was most proud to be a Navy corpsman and a ‘Devil Doc’ for the Marines," his parents, Kip and Rachel Soviak, told CNN in a statement. "His final words to [Rachel] over FaceTime, when he was telling her goodbye was after she told him to be safe and he said 'Don’t worry mom, my guys got me they won’t let anything happen to me.'" 

"Today she realized that they all just went together," the statement says.   

“Maxton was [an] awesome young man that was well-liked in the community as evidenced by the outpouring of condolences from teachers, coaches, employers, family, and friends," the statement said. "Maxton was always proud of being part of a state champion wrestling team and state playoff final four football team two years in a row." 

9:19 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Family of US Marine killed in Kabul says he had a "tough outer shell and giant heart"

From CNN’s Monica Serrano, Andy Rose and Paul P. Murphy 

A US Marine from Nebraska was among the service members killed in the bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday. 

Cpl. Daegan Page was 23 years old, his family said in a statement provided to CNN. 

“Daegan will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart,” the family statement said. “Our hearts are broken, but we are thankful for the friends and family who are surrounding us during this time.” They said he planned to possibly become a lineman once his Marine enlistment was finished. 

Page was raised partly in Iowa and near Omaha, Nebraska, and served at Camp Pendleton in California.  

“He loved hunting and spending time outdoors with his dad, as well as being out on the water,” said the family. “He was also an animal lover with a soft spot in his heart for dogs.” 

The statement said that Page joined the US Marine Corps after graduating from Millard South High School. He was a longtime Boy Scout and "enjoyed playing hockey for Omaha Westside in the Omaha Hockey Club and was a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan." 

7:14 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Sister of US Marine killed in Kabul attack says he made the "ultimate sacrifice"

From CNN's Gloria De Leon

US Marine Rylee McCollum.
US Marine Rylee McCollum. (Courtesy The McCollum Family)

The family of US Marine Rylee McCollum confirmed to CNN that he died in Thursday's suicide bombing outside Kabul's international airport.

Roice McCollum, Rylee's older sister, said her brother was "an amazing man with a passion for the Marines."

"He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father with a baby due in just three weeks," she told CNN in a statement, saying that Rylee had wanted to be a Marine his whole life, so much so that even as a toddler he carried around a toy rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots.

Roice said that her brother, a native of Wyoming, was on his first deployment and had been determined to be in the infantry. He was sent to Afghanistan when the evacuation began and had been manning the checkpoint when the explosion occurred, she said.

"Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country," she said. "Rylee will always be a hero not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper. We love you Rylee."

Rylee, she said, was tough but kind and loving and "made an impact on everyone he met."

7:03 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

About 4,200 people evacuated from Kabul over a 12-hour stretch Friday

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

About 4,200 people were evacuated from Kabul on Friday, according to the White House.

The evacuations were carried out from 3 a.m. ET to 3 p.m. ET by 12 US military flights that evacuated about 2,100 evacuees and 29 coalition flights that also evacuated approximately 2,100 people.

Approximately 7,500 people were evacuated from Kabul over the same 12-hour stretch of time on Thursday.

Since Aug. 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of about 109,200 people, according to the White House.

6:53 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Soldier killed in Kabul attack was a member of US special forces

From CNN's Oren Lieberman

The US soldier killed in the Kabul airport attack was a member of the 1st Special Forces Command, the command said in a statement on Twitter Friday afternoon. 

"We are saddened to report the death of one of our soldiers as a result of the attacks at [Hamid Karzai International Airport] yesterday," the command said. 

"Our teammate died not only serving our nation, but helping to give others a life of freedom and opportunity. The sacrifices made by our soldiers and families over the past 20 years were not in vain, and our mission in Afghanistan is not yet over," the command added.

The soldier's family has been notified, the command said. Per policy, the Defense Department will wait 24 hours until releasing the name of the soldier.

 

6:32 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

First lady Jill Biden pens open letter to military families

From CNN's Kate Bennett

(Susan Walsh/AP)
(Susan Walsh/AP)

Jill Biden has posted a letter to military families to her Facebook page.

In the wake of Thursday’s attack on troops in Afghanistan, Biden touches on what it feels like to be a member of a military family – noting she, too, was a military mother, when Beau Biden was serving – and specifically what those with loved ones serving in Afghanistan might be feeling. “Too many of you lost a piece of your heart forever there. This mission is personal to you, and you have shouldered its enormous weight,” writes Biden.

The first lady advises military family members who are struggling to seek help. One of Biden’s platform initiatives is Joining Forces, her initiative focused on supporting military families and veterans. 

“As our mission in Afghanistan comes to an end, you may be experiencing many emotions. Know that my heart is with you as you navigate what comes next for your family, your community, and our nation. You are not alone. … As a nation, we have asked so much of you these last twenty years. From missed birthdays and holidays to illnesses and injuries to the ultimate sacrifice a family can make, you have given us more than we can ever repay. What we can do is match your devotion with our own. We can stand beside you and honor your service. If you need to talk to someone, reach out,” she said.

Read Biden's full letter:

4:58 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

It is unclear when normal air travel will resume at Kabul airport, US State Department says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday that “it is probably unreasonable to expect that there will be normal airport operations on Sept. 1” following the US military withdrawal from Kabul airport on Aug. 31.

“What we are trying to do right is to lay the groundwork to see to it that resumption of civil aviation, consistent with international civil aviation standards, can resume as quickly as possible,” Price said in a department briefing.

There is currently no plan in place for operation of the airport once US and other partner forces leave, but there are discussions ongoing between the US, Taliban, and regional countries about its fate. 

Price told reporters that “teams of US and allied air traffic experts have accessed Karzai international airports for capabilities that would support the resumption of commercial operations once we depart,” but declined to say what that assessment found.

“We are departing by Aug. 31, upon that date, we are delivering, we are essentially giving the airport back to the Afghan people, but we are working with all concerned parties to facilitate a smooth transfer of both the airport and the airfield, knowing how important it is to us, knowing it is to the international community, and again how it important it is to the Taliban’s own self-interest,” Price said.

4:24 p.m. ET, August 27, 2021

US military still in control of Kabul airport, Pentagon says

From CNN's Michael Conte

The Pentagon said that reports that the Taliban have taken control of the airport in Kabul are false.

“They are not in charge of any of the gates. They are not in charge of any of the airport operations. That is still under US military control,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.