A U.S. anti-missile system at Kabul's international airport intercepted as many as five rockets fired early Monday, U.S. officials said. There were no initial reports of casualties, and the White House said President Biden was briefed on the attack and "informed that operations continue uninterrupted" at the airport. U.S. military C-17 cargo jets continued to land and take off roughly every 20 minutes Monday morning, The Associated Press reports. A Taliban official said there were no reports of Afghan casualties or injuries from the attack, either.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said last week that U.S. forces at the airport "actually have pretty good protection against [rocket attacks]. We have our anti-rocket and mortar system."
At least some of the rockets were believed to have been fired from Kabul's Chahr-e-Shaheed neighborhood, from a four-door sedan outfitted with six homemade rocket tubes. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, AP reports, though the Islamic State and other militants use such tubes to move rockets close to a target. While U.S. officials said the rockets were intercepted, witnesses told AP they struck residential apartment blocks in the Salim Karwan neighborhood. Some residents reported shrapnel from the rockets falling on their homes, BBC News reports.
The U.S. plans to wrap up its occupation of the Kabul airport on Tuesday and leave control of the facility to the Taliban. The last British troops arrived back in the United Kingdom on Sunday, and most other Western nations ended their participation in the airlift on Thursday and Friday. The U.S. is focusing its last days on getting U.S. troops and equipment, plus any remaining U.S. citizens who want to leave, out of Afghanistan. The State Department said Sunday that about 300 U.S. citizens are still trying to get out of Afghanistan and that the U.S. has the capacity to evacuate them before Tuesday's deadline.
Kabul's airport was one of the few remaining ways for foreigners and vulnerable Afghans to leave Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The U.S. and dozens of other countries said in a joint statement Sunday that they "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."