US national security adviser Jake Sullivan says ISIS threat to Kabul airport “real” and “acute”

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“The threat is real. It’s acute. It’s persistent. And that’s something we’re focusing on with all the tools in our arsenal,” Sullivan told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on The State of the Union “Sunday.

CNN reported earlier this weekend that the US military was establishing “alternative routes” to Kabul airport due to a threat the terrorist group ISIS-K, a self-proclaimed branch of the Islamic State, is making. weigh on the airport and its surroundings.

ISIS-K is a branch of the terrorist group that first emerged in Syria and Iraq. While affiliates share an ideology and tactics, the depth of their relationship when it comes to organization and command and control has never been fully established.

Sullivan said US ground commanders “have a wide variety of capabilities they use to defend the airfield against a potential terrorist attack” and the US is working with the intelligence community to determine where could come from a potential attack.

“This is something that we make shutdown or disruption a top priority for, and we’ll do everything we can while we’re on the ground to prevent that from happening, but we take it absolutely seriously.” , did he declare. .

President Joe Biden is expected to receive an update from his national security team on Afghanistan later Sunday morning and is expected to address developments in remarks on Sunday afternoon.

Regarding “the State of the Union”, Sullivan was unable to provide an exact number of Americans and lawful permanent residents of the United States currently in Afghanistan, but estimated the estimate at “several thousand “.

“We are working hard to organize groups of Americans, to get them to the air base, to get them on flights and get them out of the country,” he said, citing an “operational and logistical challenge in a risky and dynamic environment “.

In the past 24 hours, more than 7,500 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan via US military planes or US-facilitated flights through private organizations and partnerships with other countries, according to Sullivan.

When asked if the United States would eventually take all Americans and their Afghan partners out of the country, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC News on Sunday that “we can’t place, you know, a precise figure on exactly what we’ll be able to do. ”

“But I’m just going to tell you that we are going to try to exceed expectations and do whatever we can,” the secretary said, adding at another point: “We are going to do our best so that everyone – every citizen American who wants to go out – go out. ”

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Barbara Starr, Oren Liebermann, Ellie Kaufman, Nicole Gaouette and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.


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