August 28 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT) August 31, 2021
21 Posts
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2:56 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Biden says strike against ISIS-K "was not the last"

From CNN's DJ Judd

US President Joe Biden arrives for a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
US President Joe Biden arrives for a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Biden outlined the steps surrounding Friday's strike against ISIS-K, saying, “I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have.”

“This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay,” Biden said in a statement Saturday.

Biden also offered praise for those service members killed in this week’s attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

"[T]he 13 service members that we lost were 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," the statement said.

Biden added: “The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. ... Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground.”

2:45 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Indiana governor says Marine died in Kabul "so others could live and find freedom"

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Marine Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez "made the ultimate sacrifice" following his death in Kabul during the attack at its airport Thursday.

Sanchez, of Logansport, Indiana, was one of the 13 US service members killed in the attack.

“I ask all Hoosiers so inclined to send prayers to the family of one of America’s finest, US Marine, Corporal Humberto Sanchez," Holcomb tweeted. "Few among us answer a call of duty so dangerous as Corporal Sanchez volunteered to do. In doing so, he made the ultimate sacrifice so others could live and find freedom."

Read the tweet: 

1:43 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Defense Department releases names of US service members killed in Afghanistan

From left: Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page; Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak; and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum.
From left: Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page; Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak; and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum. Courtesy Page family/Courtesy Soviak family/Courtesy McCollum family

The Department of Defense has released the names of the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan:

For the Marine Corps, the deceased are: 

  • Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah. 
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts. 
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California. 
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California. 
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska. 
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana. 
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas. 
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri.  
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming. 
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California. 
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California. 

Staff Sergeant Darin T. Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan W. Page, Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, and Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo was assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

For the Navy, the deceased is: 

  • Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio. Soviak was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California.

For the Army, the deceased is: 

  • Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee. Knauss was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
12:39 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Father of US Marine killed in Kabul attack says his son was doing what "he loved"

US Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz died in Thursday's bombing outside Kabul International Airport, his father Mark Schmitz confirmed in a statement.

"We are going to Dover today. The love and support that we have experienced is incredible. [Jared’s] entire world was the US Marine Corps," Mark Schmitz wrote. "Ever since he committed himself to the Marines in high school, he wanted to join. He showed a level of dedication that I haven’t seen."

Jared Schmitz was from Wentzville, Missouri, and was, according to his father, particularly close to his 9-year-old special-needs sister.

"She worshipped the ground he walked on," Mark Schmitz wrote. "He would meet her at the bus stop every day and walk home. It really made her day. She would get a kick out of making her backpack heavier to get on his nerves, but of course he just turned that into training."

"He was a great friend. I didn’t know it was possible to be as proud of someone as I am of him now,"  the statement said. "At first, I was terrified for him to join the Corps, but with his dedication, in the end he was doing what he loved and what was his mission was in life."

12:21 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

About 350 Americans still seeking to leave Afghanistan, State Department says

From CNN's Brian Rokus

There are approximately 350 Americans still looking to leave Afghanistan, according to a State Department spokesperson.

These individuals are currently the only Americans the State Department can confirm are still in the country and seeking to leave, the Department said, and it believes some of them are nearly out or already out of Afghanistan.

The State Department also said it has communicated with roughly 280 additional individuals who self-identified as Americans but who have not told the Department of their plans to leave the country, or who have said they do not intend to leave at all.

Nearly 300 Americans were evacuated in the last day and the State Department also confirmed at least 5,400 Americans have been evacuated since Aug. 14, as the DOD reported earlier today.

12:42 p.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US passport holders still being let into Kabul airport, Pentagon says

From CNN's Michael Conte

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks at a briefing in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Susan Walsh/AP

The Pentagon said that any US passport holder can get into the airport in Kabul, after a US Embassy in Kabul alert on Friday warned US citizens at the airport gates to “leave immediately” due to security threats and avoid traveling to the airport.

“They’re doing the prudent, responsible thing, to inform Americans there in Kabul about what’s best for their own safety,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.

Kirby also said that Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and vulnerable Afghans are still being processed at the airport.

11:57 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US Marine corporal killed in Kabul bombing identified

From CNN's Madeleine Fitzgerald

US Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez died in Thursday's bombing outside Kabul International Airport, his mother, Alicia Lopez told CNN.

Lopez's mother said she and her family are flying to Dover Air Force Base soon to claim the remains of her son.

She described her son as a resourceful child with a promising future.

Alicia Lopez described an earlier exchange with her son where he had sent a photo of him and a small Afghan boy.

"My son called me and told me that the photo of him and the little boy, he scooped up the boy and carried him on his shoulders for five miles to safety. He told me, 'mama we are so resourceful. We hot-wired a car and got back to base to be safe,'” Alicia Lopez said.

"My son was going places." Lopez said of her son "Please share that I am praying for those in the hospital."

Hunter Lopez grew up in Southern California and both of his parents are employees of the Riverside County Sheriff's department.

A statement from the department said Lopez was 22 years old and "planned on following his parent’s footsteps and becoming a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy after returning home from his current deployment. "

The statement said Lopez joined the Marines in 2017 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.

11:38 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

Remains of 13 service members on way back to US

From CNN's Brian Rokus

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the remains of the 13 US service members killed in Afghanistan are en route to the United States but said he was “not at liberty” to provide precise arrival information.

Some context: President Biden vowed to retaliate for a terrorist attack Thursday that killed the service members and at least 170 others outside Kabul's international airport.

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has claimed that an ISIS militant carried out Thursday's suicide attack at an airport gate, but provided no evidence to support the claim. US officials have said the group was likely behind the bombing. 

11:43 a.m. ET, August 28, 2021

US forces have begun "retrograding" from Kabul airport, Pentagon press secretary says

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US military has “begun retrograding” from the Hamid Karzai International airport and noted that the US is “still in charge of airport” and the security.

Joint Staff deputy director for regional operations Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor also noted, “we’re going to continue to operate the airport up until the end… We will continue to run that airfield to make sure that we can execute our operations.”

Kirby said the Taliban is not on the airport and not manning gates.

John would not provide the number of troops who have left.