As the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan ends on Dec. 31, American troops will still conduct counter-terrorism operations, but only if the terrorists “directly threaten our people or our allies,” Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.
“And we’ve also said that we’re not going to target Taliban simply by virtue of the fact that they’re Taliban. So being a member of the Taliban doesn’t — doesn’t mean that the United States is going to prosecute operations against you for that reason alone.”
Kirby said any member of the Taliban who “undertakes missions against us or our Afghan partners” will face a military response.
“So it’s not about just being a member of the Taliban; it’s about what — it’s about what you’re doing, and if you’re going to conduct terrorist attacks, it doesn’t matter what I.D. cards you’re carrying. We have the authorities to act in our own self-defense and self-defense of our Afghan partners.”