The Pentagon has announced it will not clear anti-terrorist strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan after the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in an airstrike last month. The Department of Defense announced that the State Department recommended against authorizing the strikes after initial information suggested Mansour was indeed killed by the U.S. since they had no corroborated evidence of his death.
Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon told The Hill that, while lethal strikes against the Taliban by the U.S. could still take place, they would require a more detailed account of Mansour’s death from Afghan intelligence officials. Pahon explained that under a military theater governance agreement between Afghanistan and the U.S., the Secretary of Defense needs to ensure that cleared military operations in the
country do not unintentionally harm Afghan civilians, and described Mansour’s death as a “clear case.” The development comes amid renewed calls from anti-war activists for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan immediately, following the loss of 26 American soldiers there in the last 12 months. Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, former Defense Secretary in President Barack Obama’s administration, also recently told Senate
Armed Services Committee that the U.S. should end its involvement in Afghanistan and rebuild in Iraq. However, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) explained recently that the war against the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan is a necessary part of the war on terror. “Our problem is a failure to get out of Afghanistan,” Boehner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier this month. “I think it’s a fight we have to
fight.” Boehner added that he would like the U.S. to “leave on a better note,” but at the end of the day, Afghanistan was “one of the crown jewels of our defense establishment,” and the U.S. would stay there if necessary. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who recently visited Afghanistan to see the ongoing fight against the Taliban and other militants, said she also thinks the U.S. should maintain its presence there.
“We can’t ever leave until they give us peace,” Dingell told Fox News Tuesday. “That’s the bottom line.” Dingell said she also agreed with Hagel that the U.S. should leave Afghanistan on a “better note,” but added that she also thought it was necessary for the U.S. to continue its involvement in Afghanistan.