Pentagon doesn’t see ISIS growing in Afghanistan: spokesman
WASHINGTON: Director of Defense Press Operation Pentagon, Captain Jeff Davis on Tuesday said that Islamic State in its current position in Afghanistan is not a threat to the US.
“It is continuing to be a challenge, but at this point I don’t see it growing. I see it, if anything, struggling to maintain what little hold it has”, Captain Davis responded to the question of ARY NEWS correspondent at a briefing for the foreign correspondents held at Foreign Press Center.
“We have seen this affiliate grow in Afghanistan, called ISIS-K or ISIS Khorasan Province. But we have focused a lot of effort on it, and you’ve certainly seen that covered widely in the press, both with airstrikes and operations on the ground in conjunction with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’, Said Cap Davis.
Davis maintained that United States’ main objective is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the US and its allies, and the country remains focused on the defeat of al-Qaida and its associates as well as the defeat of ISIS Khorasan.
Captain Davis recalled that that the Taliban tried eight times last year to overtake a provincial capital in Afghanistan but “failed every single one of those times” and they have yet to do it successfully this year as well.
About Syria, Captain Davis started about the fall of Tabqa.
“Tabqa is a city along the Euphrates River just to the south of Lake Assad, and the dam, in fact, that holds Lake Assad back is called the Tabqa Dam. That city was liberated last week officially by the Syrian Democratic Forces. These are our partners that we work with on the ground in Syria. They had started as predominantly Kurdish. They have actually changed their ethnic composition substantially over the last year as they’ve made progress further down into Arab-controlled areas where they’ve gotten to become majority Arab”.
About Iraq, Capt Davis mentioned that today is day 85 of the liberation of West Mosul operation.
“To date, the coalition has put about 97,000 Iraqi Security Force members through various types of training. And just yesterday, as part of this progress, the Iraqi Security Forces gained an additional two kilometers along the forward line of troops, and the total gains in West Mosul since the offensive started in February is now 566 square kilometers in West Mosul”, he said.
He further said that the ISF continues to demonstrate their ability to conduct complex combat operations in a challenging urban environment by coordinating several major axis of advance as they engage ISIS and dismantle the lethal network of traps, IEDs, and fortifications that have been left behind in this city that is, oh, by the way, still full of civilians.
“This is something that is a huge military challenge. ISIS had two years to dig into this city, two years to burrow into tunnels, to prepare vehicle-borne and house-borne IEDs – improvised explosive devices – to set up booby-traps, to set up oil pits that they could burn to create obscuration fires. This has been a very formidable enemy particularly in the west side of the city where they are now,” said Davis.
About North Korea
On threats of Northe Korea, the Pentagon spokesman said that US continues to call on North Korea to refrain from provocative destabilizing actions, rhetoric, and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its international obligations and commitments to return to serious talks.
“This weapons program that they have is unlawful, and it represents a clear grave threat to U.S. national security. North Korea openly states that its ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons, to strike cities in the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan,” said Davis.
About China’s relationship with the state, Davis added that N.Korea is a liability for China, not an asset, and China will partner with US to demonstrate to North Korea that it stands alone in its pursuit of illegal weapons of mass destruction.
“And of course, we remain steadfast and ironclad in our commitment to our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan,” said Davis.