Red lines: "A number" of US troops killed in Kabul attack, Pentagon reveals; UPDATE: KIA now up to 10, "dozens" wounded; UPDATE: Third explosion?

The retreat of Kabul now has a body count for US forces. The Pentagon acknowledged this afternoon that “a number” of US troops died in the terrorist attack at the airport. John Kirby sent out a press release without many specifics:

The Wall Street Journal got more specific with the numbers, reporting that four US Marines got killed in the blast. At least another three were wounded:

The U.S. ambassador in Kabul has told staff there that four U.S. Marines were killed in an explosion at the city’s airport and three wounded, a U.S. official with knowledge of the briefing said. Two explosions ripped through crowds of Afghans trying to enter the airport on Thursday.

At least three U.S. troops were injured, a U.S. official said. Witnesses reported multiple fatalities among the Afghans, many of whom were trying to enter the airport because they had assisted U.S.-led coalition efforts and feared persecution by the Taliban.

Bear in mind that these are the first American combat casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020. And they came as a result of the rapid exit and then hurried re-insertion of forces as Joe Biden’s withdrawal plans collapsed under the pressure of a Taliban sweep.

That puts pressure on Biden to respond, no? After all, Biden set the red line last week, as CBS News reporter Bo Erickson recalled:

As we continue to work the logistics of evacuation, we’re in constant contact with the Taliban, working to ensure civilians have safe passage to the airport. We’re particularly focused in our engagements on making sure every American who wants to leave can get to the airport. Where we have been — seen challenges with Americans — for Americans, we have thus far been able to resolve them.

We’ve been able — we’ve made — look, we’ve made clear to the Taliban that any attack — any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with a swift and forceful response.

Biden repeated “any attack,” not just a Taliban attack. He didn’t carve out any exceptions for ISIS-K, and in fact explicitly stated that group as a potential threat. He’s treating the Taliban as a legitimate authority in Kabul, especially in this statement from Friday. That makes the Taliban responsible for any attack on our forces. That was, in fact, the reason we attacked the Taliban after 9/11 — for harboring and protecting terrorists who killed Americans.

Does Biden make good on his red-line threat? The news that the military is welding the gates shut at Karzai Airport does not suggest much optimism for that outcome, but it’s not out of the question either. One might have to assume that any reprisal would have to wait until the “retrograde” is complete, lest the situation turn into an even bigger bloodbath. But if nothing at all happens, then it only emphasizes that we’re getting chased out of Afghanistan by terrorists.

In the meantime, keep these brave troops in your prayers. They knew that they were targets for suicide attacks at this gate, and yet they kept trying to save as many people as possible:

On Thursday, a day before the explosion, U.S. Marines who manned Abbey Gate had already been briefed on the potential of a suicide vest detonating near their position, but continued processing those trying to gain entry. U.S. military officials at the airport said that an attack, given the speed and confusion surrounding the entire evacuation, was never a matter of if, but when.

Godspeed.

Update: Fox News’ Bret Baier says the number has gone up to ten, with Jacqui Heinrich adding more to the wounded category:

Unfortunately, this is not going to be the end of it.

Update: If Biden wants to respond, sooner’s better than later: