American forces have destroyed Eagle Base, the final C.I.A. outpost outside the Kabul airport, U.S. officials according to U.S officials in a controlled detonation
The intention to blow up the base was meant to ensure that any equipment or information left behind would not fall into the hands of the Taliban.
The famous Eagle Base first started early in the war at a former brick factory and had been used throughout the conflict. It however grew from a small outpost to a sprawling center that was used to train the counterterrorism forces of Afghanistan’s intelligence agencies.
Despite its long existence, many local Afghans knew little about the base. The compound was extremely secure and designed to be all but impossible to penetrate. Walls reaching 10 feet high surrounded the site, and a thick metal gate slid open and shut quickly to allow cars inside.
A former C.I.A. contractor said that leveling the base would have been no easy task. In addition to burning documents and crushing hard drives, sensitive equipment needed to be destroyed so it did not fall into the hands of the Taliban. Eagle Base, the former contractor said, was not like an embassy where documents could be quickly burned.
The base’s destruction had been planned and was not related to the huge explosion at the airport that killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 American service members. But the detonation, hours after the airport attack, alarmed many people in Kabul, who feared that it was another terrorist bombing.
Following severer attacks by ISIS-K, the official American mission in Afghanistan to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies is set to end next Tuesday. The Taliban have said that the evacuation effort must not be prolonged, and Biden administration officials say that continuing past that date would significantly increase the risks to both Afghans and U.S. troops.
After the deadly attack late last week, the U.S. military has announced its first reprisal strike in Afghanistan since an attack on the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members and as many as 170 other people, as U.S. officials again warned Americans to leave the airport because of security threats.
According to Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, “U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner.” In his speech, He was referring to the Islamic State Affiliate in Afghanistan also known as Islamic State Khorasan, which has claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack.
“The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan,” Captain Urban said. “Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.”
The attack at the airport was one of the deadliest in the nearly two decades since the U.S.-led invasion. American officials believe that “another terror attack in Kabul is likely,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Friday. “The threat is ongoing, and it is active. Our troops are still in danger.”
The U.S. airstrike followed President Biden’s strong warning to the Taliban in a press address last week from the White House when he pledged to “hunt down” the terrorists who claimed credit for the bombing.
The American president said “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive.”
Days after the U.S strikes, an assistant to the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday in response to the U.S. airstrike: “We have heard the reports about the Nangarhar incident, but we are trying to find the type of the incident and the casualties. After an investigation, we will react to that.”
Two key U.S. allies, Britain and France said on Friday that they were winding down or had ended their evacuations at the airport, which crowds continue to try to reach as they seek to flee the Taliban. French officials blamed the “rapid disengagement of the American forces” for the lack of security.
Civilian evacuations on chartered planes had halted since the attack. Private security companies and aid groups have told Afghans to remain in safe houses and avoid the airport as they plan to shift to evacuations by chartered buses through land crossings over the border with Pakistan, according to several people involved in the effort.
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