The Pentagon appeared to break with the State Department on Saturday over relations between the Haqqani Network and the Taliban – conceding that there had been a “commingling” after the State Department called them separate entities.
The head of the network, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the deputy chief of the Taliban and his uncle Khalil Haqqani was appointed head of security in Kabul after militants took over the city last week.
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Fox News asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby if the United States viewed the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as “separate entities.” State Department Press Secretary Ned Price had described them as such the day before when asked if security coordination with the Taliban extended to the Haqqani network.
“No it isn’t,” Price said on Friday. “The Taliban and the Haqqani network are separate entities.”
On Saturday, Kirby first said he was not going to offer a characterization of the Taliban or Haqqani. He then insisted that Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Taliban and also has a bounty of $ 10 million on his head.
“We know there is a certain mixture here. I mean, there is a mottling, if you will, of Taliban and Haqqani,” he said, but said he pushed back the relevance. of that for the evacuation of Kabul. .
The United States designated the network as a terrorist group in 2012 and has been linked to bombings and other attacks – and has links to al Qaeda as well.
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The group also attacked the United States Embassy in Kabul in 2011 and is charged with “the largest truck bomb ever built”, a 61,500-pound device intercepted by Afghan security forces in 2013.
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“The Haqqanis speak out against the lie that there is a dividing line between the Taliban and other jihadist groups, especially al-Qaeda,” retired Lieutenant General HR McMaster, an adviser, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. to national security in the Trump era.
The Pentagon announced in a press conference that it had eliminated two “high-level” ISIS-K terrorists in an airstrike on Friday evening, after the terrorist attack on Kabul airport on Thursday that killed 13 American soldiers and dozens of Afghans.
Michael Ruiz of Fox News contributed to this report.
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