The United States is now able to confirm that "two high-profile" Islamic State leaders in Afghanistan who allegedly played a role in planning the deadly attack at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport earlier this week have been killed in a U.S. military retaliatory airstrike, Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor said Saturday morning. A third target was reportedly wounded, and there are reportedly no known civilian casualties. The military first indicated they had killed an extremist leader in the strike on Friday, but more information has apparently come in since then.
Taylor also said the U.S. "will continue to have the ability to defend ourselves and to leverage the over-the-horizon capability to conduct counterterrorism operations as needed" in Afghanistan. The strike has raised questions over whether the U.S. and the Taliban, which considers ISIS an enemy but is still viewed by Washington as a terrorist organization in its own right, will technically become partners or at least coordinate in this regard. That could be a tricky situation for both sides, especially when it comes to public messaging, and one that likely does not come without significant risks for the U.S.