US suggests they could coordinate with Taliban in fight against ISIS in Afghanistan
A US military commander said it was “possible” for the United States to seek to coordinate with the Taliban on counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan against militants from the Islamic State (IS) group.
- The comment did not appear to suggest immediate plans to work with the Taliban
- The United States coordinated with Taliban commanders outside Kabul airport to facilitate evacuations
- United States says it is exploring all possible options to continue evacuations despite exceeding August 31 deadline
Army General Mark Milley did not give details and his comment did not appear to suggest any immediate plans to work with the Taliban.
US military leaders have coordinated daily with Taliban commanders outside Kabul airport for the past three weeks to facilitate the evacuation of more than 124,000 people.
At the Pentagon press conference, General Milley called the Taliban “ruthless”, adding: “It remains to be seen whether they change or not.”
He suggested that the recent cooperation agreement with the Taliban at Kabul airport was not necessarily a model for the future.
“In wartime you do what you need to do to reduce the risk to the mission and the force, not what you necessarily want to do,” General Milley said.
The extent and nature of a US-Taliban relationship, now that the war is over, is a key issue facing US President Joe Biden.
Mr Biden has noted several times recently that the Taliban are declared enemies of the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) terrorist group in Afghanistan, suggesting a common interest with the United States.
Mr Biden has vowed to continue targeting IS-K in response to last week’s suicide bombing at the gate of Kabul airport that killed nearly 50 Afghans and 13 US servicemen.
On Saturday, the US military carried out a drone strike in Afghanistan which it said killed two IS planners. On Tuesday, Mr Biden said: “For [IS-K]: We’re not done with you yet. “
Mr. Biden, in a speech to the nation on Tuesday, defended his decision to end the United States’ longest war and withdraw all American troops before the August 31 deadline.
“I was not going to prolong this war forever,” Biden said. “And I wasn’t going to extend an outing forever.”
Mr Biden has come under heavy criticism, especially from Republicans, for his handling of the evacuation.
But he said it was inevitable that the final start of two decades of war, first negotiated with the Taliban on May 1 by former President Donald Trump, would have been difficult, possibly with violence no matter what. when it was planned and carried out.
“To those who ask for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask, ‘What is the vital national interest? ”, Said Mr. Biden.
“I just don’t believe America’s safety and security is improved by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan.”
US says it is examining all possible routes for Afghan evacuations
The United States, according to Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, is exploring all possible options and avenues to continue helping Americans and lawful permanent residents leave Afghanistan.
Ms Nuland repeated US estimates that there were still between 100 and 200 Americans in Afghanistan and US evacuation efforts would not end until US citizens and lawful permanent residents and those who were working with the United States and who wanted to get out would not have been evacuated.
“So we have been in contact with them, over the last 24 hours, to tell them that we are looking at all possible options, air routes, land routes to continue to find ways for them to help evacuate and to support them in this, ”Ms. Nuland said.
“And to support them in this task, we are trying to determine who precisely still wants to leave, who their dependent family members are, which routes may or may not be comfortable for them.”
Ms. Nuland also said the United States will continue to have conversations with the Taliban who serve the interests of the United States as well as those of its allies.
“We are not going to take them at their word, we are going to take them at their word,” Ms. Nuland said.
“So they have a lot to prove based on their own background… now they also have a lot to gain, if they can run Afghanistan, very, very differently than they did when they were last in the country. to be able to.”
AP / Reuters