News - Afghanistan
The United States is ramping up efforts on two fronts in Afghanistan - increasing air strikes against Daesh fighters in the country's east while providing more advisers to Afghan troops fighting the Taliban in the country's south.
Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a spokesman for U.S forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon via videoconference from Kabul on Thursday that the U.S estimates there are now between 1,000 and 3,000 Islamic State-Khorasan (Daesh) fighters in Afghanistan. Daesh has designated Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Iran as its so-called "Khorasan" province.
Most fighters pledging allegiance to Daesh-Khorasan are in four or five districts in the southern part of Nangarhar province, where Shoffner says he's seen them trying to "establish a base."
Nangarhar province borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, allowing Daesh-Khorasan to recruit both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban, or TTP.
"The change in authorities has given us additional flexibility," Shoffner said.
In addition to more strikes in the east, Shoffner said the U.S military is increasing its footprint in Helmand province.
"We are increasing our advising effort in Helmand province," Shoffner said.
"We are also ... positioning soldiers to provide force protection," he added.
The repositioning of U.S forces in Helmand will not affect the overall number of U.S troops on the ground in Afghanistan, which remains at about 9,800.