The mother of one of the 13 US service members killed in the 2021 Abbey Gate bombing is demanding answers from the Biden administration about her son’s death, saying Friday that she wants to know more about his final moments.
“Just accurate statements of where my child was at the time of the bombing, where he took his last breath – all that, we have no information on any of that,” Alicia Lopez, mother of Cpl. Hunter Lopez, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
The attack outside of the Kabul airport on August 26, 2021, came days into the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, killing more than 180 people, including 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman and one soldier.
The Biden administration has sought in recent days to honor members of the military involved in the US withdrawal of American troops from the country. But two years on, questions over the frenzied exit remain and Lopez and other families of Abbey Gate victims are demanding that the president take accountability.
“We have requested true accountability and validation of the stories that the Marines that were injured and that were there have told us,” Lopez told Tapper.
Lopez said that her son’s property hasn’t been returned to her family, and her requests to speak with President Joe Biden or an administration official involved in the decision-making during the withdrawal have gone unanswered.
The Pentagon said in a statement provided to CNN on Friday that “there is no question that the Gold Star families who lost loved ones during the tragic bombing at Abbey Gate are all American heroes, and the Department of Defense will continue to support them and stand by them.”
“Nothing can take away the pain they are feeling. We are forever grateful for their service, sacrifice, and committed efforts during the evacuation operation,” said Chris Meagher, a Department of Defense spokesman.
“Second,” he continued, “it’s important to note that our commanders and service members on the ground for the evacuation were following thorough and appropriate rules of engagement. These dictated the circumstances under which our forces could address the massive stream of threats targeting (Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul).”
The Biden administration’s withdrawal after two decades of US involvement in the war has come under immense scrutiny by Republican lawmakers, including those on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The findings of an after-action review conducted by the White House released earlier this year blamed conditions created by the Trump administration for the chaotic withdrawal. A State Department review released this summer, however, said both administrations made decisions that had “serious consequences” for security in Afghanistan.
At a congressional roundtable earlier this week, the families of Abbey Gate victims offered emotional testimony about the withdrawal and losses.
Jaclyn Schmitz, the mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, said the victims were used as “pawns in some agenda.”
“We deserve some information and collaboration from all political parties,” she added.