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Pentagon Shifts Blame for Failure to Prepare for ISIS-K Bombing, say British Officials

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British Royal Marine Commandos and U.S. Marines assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit work at an Evacuation Control Center (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/First Lieutenant Mark Andries/Handout via Reuters)

With the completion of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, an unseemly blame game surrounding last week’s attack outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport has begun.

According to Tory MPs and U.K. government officials, the Pentagon is attempting to point a finger at the U.K., alleging that British troops kept the airport’s Abbey Gate open for U.K. citizens, slowing efforts to clear the area.

They’re disputing the details of a recent Politico report, which detailed the Pentagon’s preparations ahead of the August 26 suicide-bomb attack. According to the piece, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had warned top commanders of an imminent “mass casualty event,” and the Pentagon crafted a plan to clear Abbey Gate on Thursday afternoon.

But according to Politico’s reporting, which is based on notes from the Defense Department’s discussions on the matter, defense officials kept the area open longer to allow U.K. forces to continue their evacuation, which London accelerated ahead of Washington’s August 31 deadline. The attack perpetrated later that day by an ISIS affiliate killed 13 U.S. service members, two U.K. citizens, and over 150 Afghans.

British officials, however, dispute that framing of events, telling the Guardian that the move to keep Abbey Gate open was a “joint decision” and that both sides acknowledged the inherent risks of doing so.

A U.K. government official also told LBC, “The U.S. is having to explain the total mess that has been the evacuation. There’s clearly some hard briefing going on.”

In addition to the British government, members of Parliament are pushing back against the apparent leak to Politico.

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