The Pentagon did not rule out hitting the new Taliban leader to protect its forces in Afghanistan while it said it will continue to do whatever is needed to protect its forces.
“Right now, as you know, we carried out a strike against a Taliban leader who had plotted against the US forces and had led a group that carried out attacks against US forces. And we will continue to do whatever we need to do to protect our forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters at a news conference yesterday.
He was being asked of the Pentagon trying to kill the new Taliban leader, who was appointed this week after its last leader Mullah Mansour was killed in an US air strike on Saturday.
The responsible thing for the Taliban leadership to do at this point would be to pursue a pathway to a peaceful resolution with the unity government in Afghanistan, Cook said in response to a question.
“That would be the responsible thing to do, because the Afghan forces with the support of the US, our partners there, are going to continue to improve and show more skills and capabilities,” he said.
“And they’re going to continue to be able to work towards ultimately securing the country on their own. That’s the ultimate goal here. They’re going to have our support in the process. So the wise thing for the Taliban leadership to do would be to factor that into their decision-making and choose a different path. We will wait to see what they do,” Cook said.
In the meantime, the US is going to do everything we can to support the Afghan forces, to continue to bolster those forces, to make them more capable, more able to defend themselves, to defend the country.
“We’ve talked about the aviation assets that are now coming online; the training that continues for Afghan forces. This is a difficult situation and this does present an opportunity for the Taliban to chart a new path should they choose to do so. Well wait to see if they do the responsible thing,” Cook said.