US to intensify anti-IS fight during Afghan truce

US to intensify anti-IS fight during Afghan truce
An Afghan government truce with the Taliban has provided a window for the fight against IS to be stepped up, a US general has said.
2 min read
08 June, 2018
Afghan commandos are leading the fight against IS [AFP]
The fight against the Islamic State group in Afghanistan could be intensified during a government truce with the Taliban, a US general said on Friday.

The week-long ceasefire - coinciding with the end of Ramadan and start of the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday - was announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.

It would only apply to the Taliban and not to the more extreme Islamic State group and al-Qaeda militant organisations.

This will provide a window for US-backed Afghan forces to concentrate on battling IS, who have established a strong presence in eastern Afghanistan, an American commander told reporters on Friday.

"We are in the middle of a new offensive against [IS] in Nangahar. This will continue and in fact will be intensified during the period of ceasefire," General John Nicholson, who commands US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said.

"We're going to leave resources devoted to protecting our forces and watching the enemy, even those that participate in the ceasefire, as well as intensifying the pressure on [IS]," he added, according to Reuters.

Nicholson also said that the government's unilateral decision to temporarily halt the fight against the Taliban was a risk worth taking.

"The potential benefit is greater than the risk," he said.

Nicholson added that the Taliban could expect an immediate retaliatory response if it broke the ceasefire.

"We will act in self defence of coalition and Afghan forces," Nicholson said.

"This means that we will be watching and prepared to respond to any threat that occurs or appears imminent to affect our forces."

IS hold territories in the northern and eastern provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar and Jowzjan.

On Friday, the home of an Afghan MP in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, was attacked by two suicide bombers, killing three people.

IS is considered a far more dangerous and extreme militant group than the Taliban.

Moves have been made to establish a peace deal with the Taliban, which could potentially see the militant group transform into a political movement.

Agencies contributed to this story.