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WASHINGTON – The Pentagon will brief reporters Thursday afternoon following two confirmed explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, resulting in the deaths of several U.S. service members and dozens of casualties among Afghans.
U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, is also expected to brief reporters alongside Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
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The latest revelation comes as U.S. and coalition forces accelerate emergency evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, a mission that is slated to end in five days.
About 5,400 U.S. servicemembers are assisting with evacuation efforts in Kabul. The British Defense Ministry, which has the second-largest military footprint in Kabul, said earlier on Thursday that there were no known casualties among its government and military personnel on the ground there.
Following the first blast, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul urged Americans to avoid travel to the airport and its gates. The embassy had previously issued a security alert urging U.S. citizens near the airport gates to "leave immediately."
Thousands of Afghans have gathered at the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport seeking a flight out of the country since the stunning collapse of the Afghan government to the Taliban more than a week ago.
In the last 24 hours, Western forces evacuated 13,400 people out of Kabul on 91 military cargo aircraft flights. Since the mass evacuations began on Aug. 14, approximately 95,700 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan.
About 101,300 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 4,500 U.S. citizens and their families.