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Pentagon disputes report of firefight following Abbey Gate bombing

Military officials are disputing allegations that they withheld details about additional attacks on U.S. forces following the deadly August 2021 bombing in Afghanistan and insisting that the tragedy was the result of a lone insurgent, not a coordinated assault.

The pushback comes in response to a CNN report released Wednesday which appears to show multiple rounds of gunfire following the explosion at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021. That attack killed 13 U.S. servicemembers as well as dozens of Afghan civilians.

In a newly released video from the network — reportedly filmed by a U.S. Marine providing security in the area — American military personnel are seen taking defensive positions around the perimeter of the airport as periodic gunfire is heard nearby. Afghan civilians, some injured, rush in and out of view.

Less than two weeks ago, Pentagon officials released a second review of the attack, again concluding that “a lone ISIS-K suicide bomber had carried out the attack, and that the attack could not have been preventable at the tactical level.”

But troops and Afghan civilians interviewed by CNN said they heard nearly a dozen instances of gunfire after the initial explosion, more than what would be common for just warning shots to disperse crowds in the area. Witnesses also suggested that civilians may have been killed by American troops who believed they were under attack.

Army Lt. Col. Rob Lodewick, public affairs adviser to the Abbey Gate Supplemental Review Team, said in a statement that military personnel were not allowed to review the CNN video ahead of publication.

“The Abbey Gate investigation thoroughly investigated the allegations of a complex attack, as well as allegations of outgoing fire from U.S. and coalition forces following the blast,” he said. “The supplemental review found no new evidence of a complex attack, and uncovered no new assertions of outgoing fire post-blast.”

Lodewick said department officials have “long acknowledged both the presence of gunfire and the fact that U.S. and coalition forces produced outgoing fire in the form of warning shots.”

He also added that “any accusations of a deliberate attempt [by military officials] to mislead or deceive are categorically false and disingenuous.”

Specifics of the deadly attack, its leadup and its aftermath have been a point of contention among congressional lawmakers and administration officials over the past three years, with Republican lawmakers repeatedly accusing White House and military officials of downplaying details in an effort to move past the messy exit of American forces from Afghanistan.

Of particular contention has been testimony by former Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a sniper who was wounded in the attack. He has said his teammates spotted the suicide bomber ahead of the deadly event but were not given permission to kill the individual.

Military officials have insisted that no such positive identification was made ahead of the attack.

The latest military review is available on the Defense Department’s website.

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