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Iran Press TV

Terrorist groups could rebuild as soon as early spring in Afghanistan: Commander

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 30 September 2021 1:34 AM

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley says there is "a real possibility" that the terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda or Daesh, could rebuild their ranks in Afghanistan as soon as early spring 2022.

"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 lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Also present at the session, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved Milley's assessment.

"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," he said.

Meanwhile, US Central Command head General Frank McKenzie, who was also present, acknowledged that the head of the Taliban's political wing, Abdul Ghani Baradar, had offered the US military officials during a meeting in Doha on Aug. 15 to take over Kabul's security until the end of withdrawal process.

The top commander, however, noted that he did not have the authority to agree to such an offer and "we did not have the resources to undertake that mission."

Asked whether or not the message has been conveyed to US President Joe Biden, McKenzie said he did not know, but added that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad was present at the meeting.

McKenzie's revelation is likely to make the Biden administration the target of new attacks over its messy handling of the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.

Over the past weeks, Washington's defeat in Afghanistan and its failure to provide a safe passage for the US citizens and vulnerable Afghans have turned into the main source of domestic and international criticism.

In response, the Biden administration has repeatedly tried to pin the blame on former US President Donald Trump, reiterating that he has inherited a bad withdrawal agreement.

Trump brokered a peace deal with the Taliban in Qatar in 2020, under which Washington was obliged to pull out all of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of May 2021.

Biden, however, missed the deadline, until all US military forces were pulled out from Afghanistan on August 31, two weeks after the country fell to the Taliban.

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