Thirteen U.S. troops in total were killed, according to U.S. officials. One Navy corpsman was killed in the attack, The Associated Press reported, and a defense official told Military Times that a soldier was killed. Confirmation of the branch of the final service member was still pending Thursday evening.
Several Marines were wounded in the attack, Maj. Jim Stenger, a Headquarters Marine Corps spokesman, said in an emailed statement Thursday evening.
“Freedom comes at a cost,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Thursday afternoon before a Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Navy Cross ceremony. Marine Raider Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Jones was honored for his heroic actions fighting ISIS in Iraq on March 8, 2020.
“The next hours ... will be chaotic, will be tough for those units, for those families, I think the best that we can do from where we sit here in North Carolina is send them our prayers.”
The families of the Marines killed are currently being informed and their names and units will be released 24 hours after all the families are notified, Stenger said.
“We mourn the loss of these Marines and pray for their families,” Stenger said in the statement.
There were more than 2,000 Marines in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. They recently had been rushed to the airport to aid in the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghans attempting to flee the country as the Taliban quickly conquered the nation before a U.S. troop withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31.
The attack began when an ISIS suicide bomber approached a group of Marines outside the Abbey gate, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, CENTCOM commander, told reporters Thursday.
Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to the airport, The Associated Press reported. The attacks killed at least 60 Afghans.
The Marines mostly come from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.
The attack was one of the deadliest on U.S. forces in the 20-year history of the war in Afghanistan.
Only the 2005 Operation Red Wings, which resulted in 17 deaths, and the 2011 the shooting down of Extortion 17, a CH-47D Chinook, which killed 30 service members, resulted in more deaths.
The Marines were the first Marines killed in any combat operations since the March 2020 deaths of Marine Raiders Capt. Moises A. Navas and Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo.
Navas and Pongo died while clearing caves of ISIS fighters in northern Iraq. They were working alongside Iraqi security forces and French special operators.
Marine Raider Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Jones was awarded the Navy Cross Thursday for his actions in that fight that saved the life of a French operator.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black tweeted out a statement expressing his condolences for the Marines who died Thursday.
“Though their loss was in great service to our Nation, I join every Marine and Sailor who vows to carry on their legacy and remember their sacrifice,” Black said.
Berger said in a statement, “These fallen heroes answered the call to go into harm’s way to do the honorable work of helping others. We are proud of their service and deeply saddened by their loss.”