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Iran Press TV

US expands war on Daesh beyond Iraq, Syria: NYT

Iran Press TV

Mon Feb 1, 2016 3:37PM

The United States has carried out airstrikes against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in Afghanistan, expanding Washington's military campaign against the militants beyond Iraq and Syria.

The US military has conducted at least a dozen operations in the past three weeks against militants aligned with Daesh in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The operations followed a decision by the administration of President Barack Obama last month to broaden the authority of American commanders to attack Daesh's new branch in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.

The Obama administration is revamping plans for how it fights the terrorist organization in regions where it has developed affiliates. The administration has been accused by Republicans in Congress of not having a strategy to defeat the group.

Many of these recent raids and strikes in Afghanistan have been in the Tora Bora region in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

US commanders in Afghanistan said they believed that about 100 Daesh terrorists had been killed in the recent operations. American intelligence officials estimate that there are approximately 1,000 Daesh militants in Nangarhar, and possibly several thousand more elsewhere in the country.

But even the US generals leading the military operations acknowledge that the terrorist network can recruit new militants to replace those killed in US attacks.

"The new authority gives us the ability to take the gloves off to hold them in check, and we have been targeting them heavily and it has had quite an effect," said Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the US military's deputy chief of staff for operations in Afghanistan.

"But just because you take a bunch of guys off the battlefield doesn't mean you will stop this organization," Buchanan told the Times.

While Obama has declared an end to combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the supposed campaign against ISIL is part of an ongoing and potentially expanding American military presence in the Middle East, south-central Asia and Africa.

The United States has 9,800 troops in Afghanistan and about 3,700 in Iraq, including commandos, "trainers" and "advisers." There are also several dozen US Special Operations forces deployed in Syria.

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