WASHINGTON: (APP) Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the chief of the United States Central Command has expressed growing concerns over the situation in Afghanistan amid fears that security crisis is creating new opportunities of resurgence for al Qaeda, the Islamic State and Taliban groups in the war ravaged country.
At a security forum this week, Gen. Votel said the Afghan government now controls only about 60 percent of the country with Taliban in control over about 10 percent, while the rest is being contested, reports Wall Street Journal. He said different groups were fighting to fill the void where government forces lack control.
"We have to be concerned about this issue about the Taliban pulling together and cooperating and collaborating with other terrorist organizations," General Votel said at a security forum in Washington this week.
The latest assessment of the situation in Afghanistan comes in the backdrop of intense Taliban offensives which have resulted in the extremist group taking a large portion of territory out of the government's hands, the report said, adding that these places have now become the stage for a resurgence of regional and international militant groups.
The resurgent Taliban have been killing 30 to 50 members of the security forces each day in recent month, according to the report, which poses and immediate existential threat to the Afghan government.
This is happening despite the fact that the US has already extended its presence to nearly 10,000 troops in the country which are engage in different tasks, including counterterrorism operations and helping Afghan National army.
Quoting Western and Afghan officials estimate, the report said there are about 40,000 to 45,000 militants active across Afghanistan, with Taliban having an estimated 30,000 fighters. Others are foreign militants belonging to different groups.
"Of the 98 U.S.- or U.N.-designated terrorist organizations around the globe, 20 of them are in the Af-Pak region," Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan was quoted as saying recently. "This is the highest concentration of the numbers of different groups in any area in the world."
President-elect Donald J. Trump during his presidential campaign has stated his desire to withdraw from Afghanistan which, he says, is a complete disaster. However, Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who Mr. Trump has picked for his national security team has expressed concern over the situation there.
Gen. Flynn, who spent years focusing on the Afghan conflict, has stated that the chaos in Afghanistan may directly impact the United States again, according to the report.
"What we have to continue to do for that entire region is to reinstill confidence that we actually can help them. We cannot leave this region to the likes of these multiple terrorist organizations. There is too much at stake," General Flynn was quoted as saying this year.
According to the report, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan is seen as a competitor with the Taliban, who have fought with them in their stronghold and have publically criticized them. Al Qaeda, which has seen its capability lost, has created a new branch based in those countries, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, which is more regionally focused.