President Biden met privately on Sunday with the family members of the service men and women killed in the suicide bombing in Kabul as their remains were returned to the United States.
Biden flew to Dover, Delaware, to pay his respects to the 13 fallen as officials continued to evacuate more Americans and prevent more carnage in Afghanistan.
Defense Department officials said a second strike was carried out to remove another imminent threat. The U.S. was assessing the possibility of civilian casualties from the second attack, as witnesses and a Taliban official alleged an Afghan family had been killed.
Officials said the drone strike was carried out with a Hellfire missile approximately a mile from the airport, a densely packed urban area. A secondary explosion damaged a nearby building, but it was unclear whether the car itself was rigged, suicide vests were detonated, or if a Taliban report of a “rocket” striking a home caused any casulties. Investigations were ongoing.
The process known as “dignified transfer” occuring at Dover Air Force Base produced the sounds of anguished family members as the President and Dr. Biden stood by with other dignitaries.
While often perceived as a great comforter to grieving families, some families were openly angry with Biden.
The family of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum said they left the room when it was time to meet privately with Biden because they held him responsible for McCollum’s death. Rylee’s wife did stay to meet with Biden, but said she felt Biden’s account of his son Beau’s military service and death was brief and “a total disregard to the loss of our Marine.”
Steve Nikoui, father of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, told the Daily Beast, “I blame my own military leaders. … Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.” Steve Nikoui said he was a supporter of former President Donald Trump.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded on “Meet The Press.”
“There are no words that I can say – that, I think, anyone can say – to assuage the grief that a parent is feeling at the loss of their child. Nothing,” Blinken said. “And if I were in his shoes, probably I’d feel exactly the same way.
“As a parent myself, I feel deeply what he expressed,” he said. “And all I can say is, I’m deeply, deeply sorry.”