ISIL-K, a new terrorist group and/or branch of ISIS out of Afghanistan, can now be officially targeted by the United States military after President Barack Obama gave the authorization on Wednesday.
Pentagon officials are calling it a “significant step” in the global terrorism fight. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter had requested the measure about a month ago.
According to the State Department, many of the militants in ISIL-K are former Taliban fighters from both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This from RT:
The K in ISIL-K stands for Khorasan, or what the self-proclaimed Islamic State chapter calls the territory where it operates, which so far is in parts of Pakistan and the Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. The group is estimated to be between 1,000 and 3,000 members strong.
Earlier this month, the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) claimed it was responsible for an attack on a Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province. Seven Afghan security forces died.
With the White House’s approval, the 9,800 American troops can target the group — just like they do currently with al-Qaeda. Before Obama’s thumbs up, forces were only allowed to retaliate after being engaged by ISIL-K.
Unlike the Taliban — a group the Afghan government ultimately seeks to find longterm peace with — ISIL-K is currently labeled as merely a “hostile force” that needs to be dealt with, rather than reasoned with.
According to the U.S. military, the “branch” currently resides in the southern parts of Nangarhar province, a mountainous region right on the Pakistani border.