A top American commander has said that the US and Afghan forces are focusing more on going after the dreaded Haqqani network, which has threatened to disrupt the presidential elections next month in the war-torn country.
"Haqqani is the most virulent strain of the insurgency. It's the
greatest risk of the force and, frankly, from a high-profile attack perspective, perhaps the greatest risk to the campaign," General Joseph Dunford, Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters.
"The Haqqani network has been more active in some ways over the last few months. So, we have energised our efforts accordingly. I don't think there's anything that we're doing today that's different than what we were doing before, but it may be more focused," he said in response to a question.
Dunford gave credit to the Afghan forces from protecting the country from the Haqqani network, which has time and again threated to disrupt the political process and create high- profile attacks to create the perception of insecurity and adversely affect the elections.
"So as we've worked with our Afghan counterparts, we certainly have tried to make sure that we have a shared appreciation for the threat of Haqqani, in that not only are our operations focused on Haqqani, but our operations with the Afghans are focused on Haqqani. So that's really what that has been about," he said.
"When you look at Haqqani's high-profile attack threat streams, and you look at the consequences of those threat streams against what we're trying to accomplish right now, clearly mitigating the risk of the Haqqani network is one of my priorities as a commander," he said.
"I've also reached out to the interagency, because it's a broader problem than just me dealing with Haqqani inside of Afghanistan. We obviously want to look at their freedom of movement. We want to look at their financing and so forth. And so there are others in the US government that could help us in that regard, and that's what we've tried to do," Dunford said.
Dunford said the US would deal with Haqqani as a threat to the force.
"In other words, the viability of our mission in 2015 to go after al-Qaeda is, obviously, inextricably linked to our ability to protect the force. Haqqani will be, in my mind, remain one of the biggest threats to the force, but largely we will try to deal with Haqqani by, with and through our Afghan counterparts," he said.
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