“My military estimate is… that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin on Saturday. Following its blitz takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban now controls most of the country except for last pockets of resistance in the Panjshir Valley. Heavy clashes continue in the strategic region, despite both sides insisting to have advantage and claiming to have inflicted heavy losses on their enemies.
Milley expressed doubt that the Taliban will be able to establish a sustainable government, and warned that power vacuum and chaos could lead to resurgence of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and “other myriad” of terrorist groups. In order to keep America ‘safe’, President Joe Biden’s administration previously vowed to continue “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism missions, but Milley admitted that with no troops on the ground and crippled intel gathering capabilities, the US “will have to reestablish some human intelligence networks.”
And then as opportunities present themselves, we’ll have to continue to conduct strike operations if there’s a threat to the United States.
Milley called the raid a “righteous strike” that eliminated “at least one” person who was a “facilitator” for IS-K terrorists. Local media and the Taliban, however, said that 10 civilians were killed as a result – seven of them children.One such opportunity presented itself last week, when a US drone targeted a vehicle in Kabul, which the US Central Command said posed an “imminent” threat to the evacuation efforts ongoing at Hamid Karzai International Airport at the time. It followed a suicide bombing by a local offshoot of the IS terrorist group, Islamic State Khorosan (IS-K), in which at least 95 Afghans and 13 US soldiers were killed, just before the last American troops left the country.
Meanwhile, the standoff between the Taliban and the Panjshir resistance, which has been shaping up since mid-August, continues.
The valley is located north of Kabul and controls a key strategic road to eastern Afghanistan. The region was made into a separate province by the US-backed Afghan government after the Taliban was ousted in 2001. It is currently held, at least partially, by fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of an anti-Taliban leader assassinated in 2001, who declared themselves the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA). Also among the ‘resistance’ is Amrullah Saleh, who served as vice president in the US-backed government and now styles himself the rightful president of Afghanistan.