'Taliban a ruthless group': Will remain focused on ISIS-K, says US

WION Web Team
Washington Published: Sep 02, 2021, 07:23 AM(IST)

Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle. Photograph:( AFP )

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A top US official said America continues to work towards pulling out the remaining Americans out of Afghanistan including Afghan nationals while exploring various options including land and air routes.

As the Taliban begins tightening its control over Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops following 20 years of war, top US officials haven't ruled out the possibility of coordinating with the Taliban to combat the ISIS-K threat.

However, the United States continues to describe the Taliban as a "ruthless group" and has said that it's unclear whether they would change.

"We don't know what the future of the Taliban is but I can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past whether or not they change remains to be seen," US General Mark Milley said.

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"As far as our dealings with them at that airfield or in the past year or so in war, you do what you must in order to reduce risk to mission and force, not what you necessarily want to do," Milley added.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin praised the American troops in Afghanistan and the massive evacuation mission undertaken by the forces. Austin added that the US would not like to make any predictions on future cooperation with the Taliban but will still remain focused on ISIS-K. 

"Going forward, I would not want to make any predictions. I would tell you that we're going to do everything that we can to make sure we remain focused on ISIS-K, understand that network and at the time of our choosing in the future hold them accountable for what they've done," the US defence secretary said.

US President Joe Biden had promised to hunt down ISIS-K fighters in retaliation for last week’s suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in which 13 US service members were killed including several Afghans.

Also Read: Intelligence said Kabul will not fall this year; UK's Raab defends handling of Afghan evacuation

Top military officers have also said that the Taliban's decision to liberate all detainees from prisons established by the US had has led to 2,000 ISIS-K fighters returning to the battlefield. 

Meanwhile, Victoria Nuland, US undersecretary of state said that the United States is looking at all possible options and routes to continue helping Americans and legal permanent residents to leave Afghanistan.

"These efforts did not end on August 31 and they will not end until we have secured the evacuation of any American citizen and permanent resident and folks who worked with us and serve the American people who want to get out," Nuland said.

"We are looking at all possible options- air and land routes to continue to find ways for them to help evacuate and to support them in that we're trying to ascertain who precisely still wants to leave and their dependent family members who may or may not feel comfortable," Nuland added.

"We are also working intensively with countries on the ground who are trying to get the civilian airport opened," Nuland informed.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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