US will continue to conduct drone strikes in Afghanistan if and when needed: Pentagon

Washington: The Pentagon will continue to conduct drone strikes against the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and others within Afghanistan when necessary even after the permanent withdrawal of the US military presence from the country, said the Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday (local time).

The US launched deadly drone strikes against an individual described as an “ISIS-K planner” as well as a suspected suicide car bomber in recent days after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 13 US service members. Kirby indicated the Pentagon would utilise drone strikes if threats arose in the future, Fox News reported.

“We have the capability from an over the horizon perspective of ensuring our national security interests are protected and defended,” Fox News quoted Kirby as saying in an interview with NPR.

“And what I would tell you, without getting into hypotheticals or speculating about future operations, we’re going to continue to maintain those capabilities and use them if and when we need to,” Kirby said.

The United States forces left Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, marking the end of a chaotic and messy exit from America’s longest war.

While addressing the nation on the US ending 20 years of war in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday (local time) warned the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), the group which killed 13 US troops in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport, and said that the US is not done with the terrorist group.

“To ISIS-K we are not done with you yet,” Biden said, adding that “to those who wish America harm, we will hunt you down and you will pay the ultimate price.”

Biden, in defending a decision that has drawn scrutiny for its execution, said the real decision in Afghanistan was “between leaving and escalating,” framing his choice to withdraw troops as the only option aside from surging more forces to the country.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” he added.