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Biden addresses nation after end of war in Afghanistan: ‘Heroes gave their lives’

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday about the historic end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, and the U.S. State Department’s ongoing efforts to continue to evacuate Americans.

The Pentagon reported evacuating more than 120,000 people from the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Islamic State affiliate’s suicide bombing on Aug. 26 that killed 13 U.S. service members.

“Heroes gave their lives. I was just at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer,” Biden said. “We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but we should never, ever, ever forget.”

Biden said the U.S. military is now focused on fighting the culprits of the attack at the Kabul airport: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province, better known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K.

Days after the attack at the airport, the U.S. military killed two ISIS-K targets.

Watch the president’s address

Short timeline

Aug. 31: The Taliban remains in control of Afghanistan as an enemy of the Islamic State. According to the Pentagon’s casualty status report, 2,325 casualties and 20,686 wounded in action during operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Operation Enduring Freedom included 2,218 casualties and 20,093 wounded in action from Oct. 7, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2014, according to the report. Enduring Freedom included 107 casualties and 593 wounded in action after Dec. 31, 2014. The report doesn’t include veterans’ suicides or U.S. contractors’ deaths.

In this image made through a night vision scope and provided by the U.S. Army, Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, boards a C-17 cargo plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, as the final American service member to depart Afghanistan. (Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/U.S. Army via AP)

Aug. 30: U.S. troops depart the Kabul airport before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline without evacuating about 100 U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind.

In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. service members assigned to Joint Task Force-Crisis Response, and serving as pallbearers, kneel during a ramp ceremony on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, for the service members killed in action during operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

Aug. 27: The Pentagon announced the targeted attack killing of two ISIS-K members described as a planner and a facilitator of the suicide bombing.

Afghans lie on beds at a hospital after they were wounded in the deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover. (AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Aug. 26: Islamic State K conducts a suicide bomber attack killing 13 U.S. service members and about 180 Afghans during evacuation efforts at Kabul airport. Biden vows retaliation.

Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. The Taliban celebrated Afghanistan's Independence Day on Thursday by declaring they beat the United States, but challenges to their rule ranging from running a country severely short on cash and bureaucrats to potentially facing an armed opposition began to emerge. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Aug. 15: The Taliban takes control of Kabul, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flees Afghanistan.

FILE - In this July 5, 2021 file photo, a member of the Afghan security forces walks in the sprawling Bagram air base after the American military departed, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. When U.S. President Joe Biden took office early this year, Western allies were falling over themselves to welcome and praise him and hail a new era in trans-Atlantic cooperation. The collapse of Kabul certainly put a stop to that. Even some of his biggest fans are now churning out criticism. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

July 6: U.S. military turns over Bagram Airfield, the largest military facility in Afghanistan, to Afghan security forces.

FILE - In this April 14, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House about the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The need for crisis-driven leadership comes to all U.S. presidents. Now, on several fronts at once, it has come to President Joe Biden. As the president who is ending America's longest war, in Afghanistan, he will be judged by history for how he did it. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

April 14: Biden commits to withdraw by Aug. 31. “We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021,” Biden said.

Nov. 17, 2020: Former President Donald Trump loses the presidential election.

FILE - In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader shack hands after signing a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar. President Joe Biden and his national security team say the Trump administration tied their hands when it came to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The argument that President Donald Trump's February 2020 deal with the Taliban set the stage for the weekend chaos that unfolded in Kabul has some merit. But, it's far from the full story. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Feb. 29, 2020: The Trump administration agreed to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, and an envoy signed a peace agreement in Qatar.

Sept. 2, 2019: The Trump administration reaches an agreement with the Taliban and cancels a meeting at Camp David with Ghani and Taliban leaders.

Jan. 28, 2019: The Trump administration meets with Taliban leaders in Qatar, but doesn’t include the Ghani administration in the negotiations.

President Donald Trump addressed the country to outline the United States' path forward in Afghanistan on Aug. 21, 2017 (WDIV)

Aug. 21, 2017: Trump said a “hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum” and he sends another 3,000 troops to Afghanistan.

July 6, 2016: President Barack Obama stops plans for a withdrawal from Afghanistan. “The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious. Even as they improve, Afghan security forces are still not as strong as they need to be,” Obama said.

May 20, 2016: The U.S. designates ISIS-K as a foreign terrorist organization.

Jan. 26, 2015: Taliban who were dissatisfied with negotiations branch out to form ISIS-K and start to recruit other Taliban defectors and fighters from Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2011, file photo, Pfc. Bryan Corteal, 22, of Bullhead City, Ariz., with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion 27th Infantry Regiment based in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, hikes up to begin an overwatch shift on a hilltop observation post at Combat Outpost Monti in Kunar province. There were about 40,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) (AP2011)

June 22, 2011: Obama started preliminary negotiations with the Taliban.

May 2, 2011: Obama announced CIA operatives found Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, in Pakistan, and the U.S. military killed him after a nighttime raid.

FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 11, 2009, file photo, United States Marine Sgt. Isaac Tate, left, and Cpl. Aleksander Aleksandrov, center, interview a local Afghan man with the help of a translator from the 2nd MEB, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion on a patrol in the volatile Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. There were about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan on 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File) (AP2009)

Dec. 1, 2009: Obama announces plans to deploy 30,000 troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and promised to begin withdrawing troops in 2011.

Feb. 17, 2009: Obama deploys 17,000 troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

May 23, 2005: Hamid Karzai meets with President George W. Bush at the White House and Bush commits to strengthening the Afghan military.

April 17, 2002: Bush announces a plan to help Afghanistan and starts a transition for a new transitional government led by Karzai in Kabul. Congress appropriates more than $38 billion in assistance to Afghanistan from 2001-09.

Oct. 7, 2001: The U.S. military bombs al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. CIA operatives and U.S. special forces support the Northern Alliance during covert operations.

2001: The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, also known as Operation Enduring Freedom, begins with an air assault and covert operations on the ground. (United States Army via Wikimedia Commons)

Sept. 18, 2001: Bush authorizes the use of military force to respond to the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks after the U.S. intelligence community determined members of al Qaeda, a Taliban ally in Afghanistan, had hijacked planes to attack the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice waits as U.S. President George W. Bush talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair early September 12, 2001 from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Eric Draper/White House/Getty Images) (2001 Getty Images)

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About the Authors:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News. He has more than a decade of reporting experience nationwide.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.