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Al-Qaeda, ISIS could reconstitute in Afghanistan in next 6-36 months: Top US General

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There’s a “real possibility” that al-Qaeda or ISIS could reconstitute in Afghanistan within the next six to 36 months after the Taliban seized control of the country, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley said on Wednesday.

“It's a real possibility in the not too distant future, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 months that kind of timeframe for reconstitution of al-Qaeda or ISIS and it's our job now, you know, under different conditions, but it's our job to continue to protect the American citizens against attacks from Afghanistan,” Milley told a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin agreed with Milley’s assessment, and said: “Al-Qaeda has been degraded over time. Now, terrorist organizations seek ungoverned spaces so that they can train and equip and thrive and, and so, there, there is clearly a possibility that that can happen here, going forward.”

Since seizing control of Afghanistan on August 15, the Taliban have sought international recognition of its government, promising that the country will not become a terrorist haven or a launch pad for terrorist attacks on other countries.

However, the world community remains skeptical, and no country has recognized the Taliban as a government of Afghanistan and the White House has denied last month any chance of rushing to recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government by the US or its allies.

The hearing on the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan revealed that defense officials saw the collapse of Afghanistan’s government coming.

US Central Command head, General Frank McKenzie said he had believed “for quite a while” that if the US reduced its military advisers in Afghanistan below a certain number, Kabul’s government and its military would inevitably collapse and that the President Joe Biden’s troop withdrawal decision was “the other nail in the coffin” of the 20-year war effort in Afghanistan.

Austin backed up the Pentagon official’s assessment and said that after the US agreed to halt its airstrikes against the Taliban as part of the Doha agreement, “the Taliban got stronger, they increased their offensive operations against the Afghan security forces, and the Afghans were losing a lot of people on a weekly basis.”

With The Associated Press

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