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U.S. to intensify anti-IS operations in Afghanistan during Taliban ceasefire

09 Jun 2018 1TV News

The United States military said on Friday it will intensify operations against Islamic State group in Afghanistan during the government's ceasefire with the Taliban.

On Thursday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced around a week of ceasefire with the Taliban, starting on Tuesday.

“(Operations against IS) will continue, in fact will be even intensified during this period of ceasefire,” U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, said on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

He said that the ceasefire could free resources for operations against OS but some would remain to monitor the Taliban and for force protection.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that U.S. could now redirect significant military capabilities towards IS and other militant groups.

“If the Taliban take full advantage of the ceasefire in the best interests of the Afghan people, then many of the surveillance assets we (have) overhead could be reoriented to ISIS-K, to Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists that have no business being in Afghanistan in the first place,” Mattis told reporters.

IS emerged in Afghanistan in 2015 and its number of fighters in the country is estimated at about 2,000.

The group has claimed a number of attacks including a recent one on Islamic clerics in Kabul where they issued a ruling against suicide bombings and called for peace.

The NATO ministerial meeting discussed also Afghanistan and the alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said he expected allies to agree to fund Afghan forces at the same level until 2024.

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