National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier acknowledged that the Taliban, “to a considerable extent, are integrated with the Haqqani Network”. Amid the frantic evacuation effort in the Afghan capital, he added that “our effort is with the Taliban military commanders currently in charge of security in Kabul”.
The Pentagon appeared to dispute earlier assessments of the Haqqani Network and the Taliban* Islamist group that now controls Afghanistan as “separate entities”, by acknowledging on Saturday that there is “co-mingling” between the two.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, after initially displaying reluctance to offer a characterisation of the Taliban or Haqqani, was pressed by Fox News to respond to the fact that Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a $10 million bounty on his head, is deputy leader of the Taliban.
A day earlier, State Department Press Secretary Ned Price described the Haqqani Network and the Taliban* as “separate entities”. When asked on Friday whether security coordination with the Taliban in Kabul extended to the Haqqani Network, Price responded by saying it did not.
The US has relied on the Taliban to maintain security checkpoints around Kabul’s airport amid the frantic evacuation effort and Thursday’s deadly bomb blasts outside Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 US service members and caused scores of Afghan casualties. Officials suspect the attack was carried out by Daesh*-K, a splinter group that is a Taliban rival….