Milley: US Coordination With Taliban on Strikes ‘Possible'

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Army Gen. Mark Milley, president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that it's “possible” the United States volition question to coordinate with the Taliban connected counterterrorism strikes successful Afghanistan against Islamic State militants oregon others.

Milley did not elaborate, and his remark did not look to suggest contiguous plans to enactment with the Taliban.

U.S. subject commanders coordinated regular with Taliban commanders extracurricular the Kabul airdrome implicit the past 3 weeks to facilitate the evacuation of much than 124,000 people. But that was a substance of convenience for some parties and not needfully a motion that they volition pursue, oregon adjacent want, a regular narration successful the future.

The U.S. subject ousted the Taliban from powerfulness successful the autumn of 2001 and fought against them for the 19 years that followed.

The grade and quality of a U.S.-Taliban relationship, present that the warfare is over, is 1 of the cardinal issues to beryllium worked out. The U.S. diplomatic beingness successful Kabul has been moved to Doha, Qatar. President Joe Biden has noted respective times precocious that the Taliban are avowed enemies of the Islamic State radical successful Afghanistan, suggesting a shared involvement with the United States.

At a Pentagon quality league with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Milley called the Taliban “ruthless” adding, “Whether oregon not they alteration remains to beryllium seen.” He suggested that the caller cooperative statement with the Taliban astatine Kabul airdrome was not needfully a exemplary for the future.

“In warfare you bash what you indispensable successful bid to trim hazard to ngo and force, not what you needfully privation to do,” Milley said.

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Biden has promised further targeting of the IS radical successful Afghanistan successful effect to the IS termination bombing past week astatine a Kabul airdrome gross that killed scores of Afghans and 13 American work members. On Saturday the U.S. subject carried retired a drone onslaught successful Afghanistan that it said killed 2 IS planners. On Tuesday, Biden said, “To ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet,” referring to the IS group.

Targeting Islamic State militants oregon different extremist groups, specified arsenic al-Qaida, volition beryllium much hard with nary U.S. subject forces connected the crushed and nary affable authorities forces with which to stock quality connected extremist networks. But the Biden medication asserts that it tin incorporate these groups by monitoring and perchance striking with assets based elsewhere successful the region.

Although the Taliban reason IS, it's acold from wide that they volition beryllium inclined to enactment with the U.S. subject oregon the Central Intelligence Agency present that they person regained powerfulness successful Kabul. Milley has caller acquisition with Taliban leaders; doubly past year, astir precocious successful December, helium met face-to-face with them successful an effort to dilatory their attacks connected the U.S.-backed Afghan government, which collapsed successful mid-August, triggering the frantic U.S.-led evacuation.

Austin sounded astatine slightest arsenic skeptical arsenic Milley regarding the anticipation that the coordination successful caller days astatine the Kabul airdrome suggests a aboriginal narration with the Taliban.

“I would not marque immoderate leaps of logic to broader issues,” said Austin.

Both Austin and Milley commanded troops successful Afghanistan during the 20-year warfare and their comments astatine Wednesday's quality league mostly focused connected tributes to those who served successful Afghanistan, including those who died oregon were wounded. They besides thanked each who contributed to the last airlift, which Austin called the largest evacuation of civilians successful American history.

Milley and Austin urged warfare veterans to presumption their work arsenic worthwhile and appreciated by the American public, portion acknowledging that the memories tin beryllium painful.

“War is hard. It’s vicious. It’s brutal. It’s unforgiving,” Milley said. "Yes, we each person symptom and anger. When we spot what has unfolded implicit the past 20 years and implicit the past 20 days, that creates symptom and anger.”

With the U.S. engagement successful the warfare implicit and each American subject retired of the country, Biden is grappling with the prospects of a caller narration with the Taliban. He has tasked Secretary of State Antony Blinken with coordinating with planetary partners to clasp the Taliban to their committedness of harmless transition for Americans and others who privation to permission successful the days ahead.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, caput of U.S. Central Command, has described the U.S. narration with the Taliban during the evacuation arsenic “very pragmatic and precise businesslike,” saying they helped unafraid the airport. But different reports from radical successful Afghanistan described shootings, unit and Taliban moves to artifact hopeless Afghans from getting done the gates.

Biden successful an code to the federation Tuesday defended his determination to extremity America's longest warfare and retreat each U.S. troops by an Aug. 31 deadline.

“I was not going to widen this everlastingly war,” Biden declared from the White House. "And I was not going to widen a everlastingly exit.”

Biden is coming nether dense criticism, peculiarly from Republicans, for his handling of the evacuation. But helium said it was inevitable that the last departure from 2 decades of war, archetypal negotiated with the Taliban for May 1 by erstwhile President Donald Trump, would person been difficult, with apt violence, nary substance erstwhile it was planned and conducted.

“To those asking for a 3rd decennary of warfare successful Afghanistan, I ask, ‘What is the captious nationalist interest?’" Biden said. He added, "I simply bash not judge that the information and information of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars successful Afghanistan.”

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Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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