August 29 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Fernando Alfonso III and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:58 PM ET, Mon August 30, 2021
16 Posts
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8:50 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

9 family members killed after US strike in residential area of Kabul, eyewitnesses say

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu, Nick Paton Walsh, and Tim Lister

Nine members of one family were killed in a US drone strike targeting a vehicle in a residential neighborhood of Kabul, according to a relative of those killed.

Those killed included six children, the youngest being a 2-year-old girl, the brother of one of the dead told a local journalist working with CNN.  

He said the people killed were his brother Zamaray (40 years old), Naseer (30), Zameer (20), Faisal (10), Farzad (9), Armin (4), Benyamin (3), Ayat (2) and Sumaya (2). 

The brother cried as he told the journalist that they were "an ordinary family."

"We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home — where my brothers lived with their families," he said.

CNN obtained images of the aftermath of the strike. A US official confirmed the location in Kabul's Khaje Bughra neighborhood. US Central Command said earlier they were assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties. 

A man named Ahad, who said he was a neighbor of the family, told CNN: "All the neighbors tried to help and brought water to put out the fire and I saw that there were 5 or 6 people dead. The father of the family and another young boy and there were two children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were [also] two wounded."  

Ahad told CNN he had witnessed the airstrike at around 5 p.m. local time as he walked towards his home. He said he heard the noise of the rocket and a loud bang, and ducked for cover, before trying to help rescue his neighbors. Ahad told CNN that two other people were wounded in the attack.

The US military said in its statement “significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,” the spokesperson said. 

A local journalist who visited the scene soon after the airstrike told CNN that "whatever material was in the car, I don’t know. The car was in a very bad state, just a skeleton of the car was left."  

The journalist — who is not being named for security reasons — was told by family members of the deceased that there were two cars parked at the home: One was a Corona and the other was a Camry.

The journalist said he'd been told that one of the cars contained one of the fathers and his three children getting ready to go to a family event.  

 

8:52 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

French President: "I cannot guarantee" rescue of Afghans still in Kabul

in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a press conference following his meeting with Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani in Irbil, Iraq, on Sunday, August 29.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a press conference following his meeting with Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani in Irbil, Iraq, on Sunday, August 29. Hadi Mizban/AP

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that “several hundred, several thousand” women and men in need of protection from the Taliban were left in Kabul after French forces pulled out.

In a message to those Afghans left behind, Macron promised, “with our partners and also through negotiations with the Taliban” to allow them to leave Afghanistan.

“Will we be able to do it? I cannot guarantee you that,” he said in an interview with French channel TF1.

The last French evacuation flight left Kabul on Friday, with the final French diplomatic and military forces arriving in France Sunday.

The French President also referenced a joint French, British and German proposal at the United Nations Security Council to establish a “safe zone” at an airport in Kabul to allow evacuations to continue. 

Macron said that such a move would pressure the Taliban to live up to their promises.

“If you want to move forward and have a country open to the rest of the region and the world, you must respect humanitarian rules and allow all women and men who want to, to be protected,” he said.

However, the French President said that negotiations with the Taliban did not presuppose a recognition of their government. This recognition, he said, would be conditional on three things: the Taliban’s respect the protection of all those that wish to leave Afghanistan; their distancing themselves from terrorist movements; and their respect for human rights and, “in particular, the dignity of Afghan women.” 

8:53 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

Taliban condemn US drone strike in Kabul

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

A view of damage after a US drone strike reportedly hit near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2021.
A view of damage after a US drone strike reportedly hit near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2021. Stringer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Taliban on Sunday condemned a US drone strike against a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber in Kabul, saying the United States had violated Afghanistan's sovereignty. 

Bilal Kareemi, a Taliban spokesperson, told CNN that it was "not right to conduct operations on others' soil" and that the US should have informed the Taliban. 

"Whenever the US conducts such operations, we condemn them," Kareemi said.

US Central Command said earlier that said the airstrike on a vehicle in Kabul targeted an “an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport.” 

1:22 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

President Biden attended the dignified transfer of service members killed in Kabul attack

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend the dignified transfer of 13 service members at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on August 29, 2021. The service members were killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021.
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend the dignified transfer of 13 service members at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on August 29, 2021. The service members were killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended the dignified transfer of 13 service members killed in Kabul on Thursday.

Out of the 13 who died, the families of 11 service members allowed the media to cover the transfers at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday. 

Biden and the first lady were joined by other military and administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

The President also met with families of the deceased behind closed doors during his visit to the base.

 

12:19 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

Vehicle targeted by US strike Sunday contained a suicide bomber, US official says

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh

The vehicle that was targeted by the US in Sunday’s strike on Kabul was next to a building and contained one suicide bomber, a US official told CNN.

It remains unclear if the vehicle was intended to be a car bomb, or if the suicide bomber was using it for transport.

"It was loaded up and ready to go,” the official told CNN.

A Pentagon official told CNN that based on initial reports, this was an unmanned drone strike on a vehicle containing what they believe were multiple suicide bombers.

Earlier, US CENTCOM said the airstrike on a vehicle in Kabul eliminated “an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport.”

12:10 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

US and other countries say Taliban has promised safe travel out of Afghanistan

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

A US Air Force plane takes off from the military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 27, 2021.
A US Air Force plane takes off from the military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 27, 2021. AFP/Getty Images

The US State Department, along with governments from numerous other countries across the globe, released a statement Sunday saying they will hold the Taliban to their promises that they will allow people to leave the country after Aug. 31. 

“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan. We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement said in part. 

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding,” the statement continued. 

Some context: National security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed this in an appearance on CNN Sunday, saying the administration is committed to a "safe passage" of Americans and Afghans who helped the US government after the withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan

"August 31st is not a cliff. After August 31st, we believe that we have substantial leverage to hold the Taliban to its commitments to allow safe passage for American citizens, legal permanent residents and the Afghan allies who have travel documentation to come to the United States," Sullivan told CNN. "We will use that leverage to the maximum extent and we will work with the rest of the international community to make sure the Taliban does not falter on these commitments."

11:26 a.m. ET, August 29, 2021

There are about 250 Americans still in Afghanistan, State Department says

About 250 Americans who are attempting to leave Afghanistan remain in the country, according to new figures from a State Department spokesperson.

Approximately 50 evacuations have taken place in the last day, bringing the total number of American citizens evacuated to 5,500.

“Our team on the ground continues to coordinate assistance around the clock for this group, while taking the current security situation into account,” the State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

Some context: The State Department has been in regular contact with around 280 people who have self-identified as Americans but are either undecided about leaving the country or do not plan to evacuate.

The State Department also continues to reach out to people who have previously self-identified themselves to the US, but have since lost contact with officials.

10:49 a.m. ET, August 29, 2021

Biden and first lady currently meeting with the families of those killed in Afghanistan

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Biden and the first lady are currently meeting with the families of the American service members killed in Afghanistan at the Center for Families of the Fallen at Dover Air Force Base, according to the press pool traveling with the President.

12:16 p.m. ET, August 29, 2021

US carried out a drone strike inside Kabul on Sunday, according to a defense official

From CNN's Oren Lieberman

Smoke rises after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2021.
Smoke rises after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2021. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The US carried out a defensive airstrike in Kabul Sunday targeting a suspected ISIS-K car bomb that was targeting the airport, according to a US defense official.

The official said a significant secondary explosion indicated a substantial amount of explosive material.

A drone carried out the attack. The initial indication is that there were no civilian casualties, the official said.

On Sunday, US CENTCOM confirmed the strike in Kabul.

“US military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport," said Capt. Bill Urban, CENTCOM spokesperson.

Capt. Urban continued: "We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material. We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time. We remain vigilant for potential future threats.”