Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin Reuters

The deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport will not change US plans to withdraw completely from Afghanistan by the end of the month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated Thursday.

"On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I express my deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and wounded in Kabul today," Austin said in a statement, referring to a twin suicide bombing which left at least 11 US marines and a Navy medic dead, and scores injured.

"Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others," he noted. "We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief.

"But we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand," the Defense Secretary declared. "To do anything less -- especially now -- would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan."

At least 70 people were killed in the double suicide bombings in Kabul on Thursday, including at least 12 American soldiers.

The bombings prompted the White House to delay the first meeting between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett until Friday.