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Pentagon does not rule out hitting new Taliban leader

Pentagon does not rule out hitting new Taliban leader

May 27, 2016 - 11:42

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Not ruling out the possibility of targeting the new Talibaninfo-icon leader if needed, the Pentagon Thursday hoped that the new leadership would pursue a path of peaceful resolution with the Afghan Government.

 “Right now, as you know, we carried out a strike against a Taliban leader who had plotted against the United States forces and had led a group that carried out attacks against U.S. forces.  And we will continue to do whatever we need to do to protect our forces,” the Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, told reporters at a news conference.

He was being asked of the Pentagon trying to kill the new Taliban leader, who was appointed this week after its last leader Mullahinfo-icon 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 Afghanistaninfo-icon, Cook said in response to a question.

 “That would be the responsible thing to do, because the Afghan forces with the support of the United States, 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 United States 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.

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