With the US military completely withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Taliban will have their hands full against ISIS-K, according to General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US CENTCOM.
The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan earlier this month after quickly defeating US-backed and trained Afghan forces in less than two weeks. In doing so, they freed thousands of prisoners, some of whom were ISIS-K fighters, from the Parwan detention center in Bagram and from a separate prison, Pul-e-Charkhi.
As the Taliban let prisoners out of their rival organization, Taliban fighters killed Abu Omar Khorasani, a former ISIS-K chief, and eight other operatives, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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“I think the Taliban will have their hands full with ISIS-K, and they’re letting these people out of jail, and now they’re going to be able to reap what they sow,” McKenzie said at the Pentagon briefing Monday afternoon, during which he announced that all US troops had left Afghanistan.
The Taliban have worked with US forces for the past two weeks as the US and several other Western countries evacuated foreign nationals and Afghan allies who could be targets under the new regime. McKenzie noted that the two sides, who were opposed to the war in its early stages, became logical partners in the evacuation because both groups had the same goal: the departure of US troops on August 31.
“They remain a very deadly force, and I think we would probably estimate that there are currently at least 2,000 die-hard ISIS fighters in Afghanistan,” he added. “And, of course, a lot of them are coming from the prisons that were opened a few days ago. So that number is on the rise and is probably as high as it has ever been in quite a while. will be a challenge for the Taliban in the days to come. “
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby last week said the number of ISIS-K fighters released from prisons was “clearly … in the thousands.”
U.S. military and Biden administration officials have repeatedly warned of a possible ISIS-K attack since the evacuation efforts began on August 14. These fears materialized last Thursday when a suicide bomber killed 13 US servicemen and around 170 others at the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
They also reportedly planned other attacks, although the US military thwarted those efforts. In one case, the United States used an airstrike to strike a vehicle containing explosives that posed an “imminent threat”. There were 10 civilian casualties, according to residents, while Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban noted “significant secondary explosions from the vehicle,” indicating the “presence of a quantity substantial amount of explosive material “.
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The Pentagon is “aware of reports of civilian casualties” and officials are “investigating further,” he added.
Five rockets were also fired at the airport on Monday, which the United States managed to prevent.
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Key words: News, Taliban, ISIS, War in Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Defense, Pentagon, Terrorism
Original author: Michel Brest
Original location: ‘Reap what you sow’: US commander says Taliban will have ‘hands full with ISIS-K’