It is “possible” that the US will have to coordinate with the Taliban on future counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan against ISIS, Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday.
“We don’t know what the future of the Taliban is. But I can tell you from personal experience this is a ruthless group from the past. And whether anything has changed with them remains to be seen,” Milley said at a press conference.
“As far as our dealings with them… in war you do what you must in order to reduce risk to mission and force, not what you necessarily want to do,” he added.
Asked about any possible coordination between the US and the Taliban, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “We are working with the Taliban on a very narrow set of issues… I would not make any leaps of logic to broader issues… It’s hard to predict where this will go in the future with respect to the Taliban.”
“We are going to do everything that we can so that we remain focused on ISIS-K… [to] hold them accountable for what they have done,” Austin added.
The defense officials’ remarks come two days after the last of the US troops and officials left Afghanistan, ending more than 20 years of American presence in the country.
Days prior to the final US pull out, ISIS-K, the arm of the extremist group in Afghanistan, carried out a suicide bombing at Kabul airport.
The bombing killed 13 US servicemen and over a 100 Afghans, becoming the deadliest day for the US military in Afghanistan since 2011.
US President Joe Biden had vowed to “hunt down” the attackers and a day after the bombing, the Pentagon said it conducted a drone strike in Afghanistan which killed a “planner and a facilitator” of ISIS-K.
The Taliban were angered by the drone attack and said the US should have informed the group since the attack was on Afghan soil.
Speaking after the final US troops left Afghanistan, Biden stressed that the US was “not done” with ISIS-K. Pentagon officials said the president gave the green light for more strikes against the extremist group.