UK ready to attack ISIS-K network in Afghanistan: Report

Published on Aug 31, 2021 10:15 PM IST
  • Britain’s chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said that if the UK finds an opportunity to contribute to efforts in containing the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate, it is ready to do that.
The RAF's F-35 Lightning seen in action. The UK said it is ready to conduct airstrikes to eliminate ISIS-K threat in Afghanistan. (THE ROYAL AIR FORCE/SAC Tim Laurence)
The RAF's F-35 Lightning seen in action. The UK said it is ready to conduct airstrikes to eliminate ISIS-K threat in Afghanistan. (THE ROYAL AIR FORCE/SAC Tim Laurence)
Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The United Kingdom said it is ready to attack the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) terror network in Afghanistan, news agency PTI reported citing The Daily Telegraph. Britain’s chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston told the English daily that the UK could also be involved in strikes against the terror outfit.

“The UK stands united with our coalition partners in mourning those killed by Daesh’s (ISIS) horrific attack at Kabul airport and in our unwavering collective resolve to combat Daesh networks by all means available, wherever they operate,” Wigston was quoted as saying by the English daily.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston further added that if the UK finds an opportunity to contribute to efforts in containing the Islamic State's Afghanistan affiliate, it is ready to do that. He also said that the rise of violent extremism is a threat to the UK and its allies. He said the UK is able to operate in Afghanistan despite it being one of the most inaccessible parts of the world.

Wigston’s comments come after the Pentagon revealed that there are at least 2,000 fighters of the outfit in Afghanistan. The ISIS-K was responsible for deadly twin blasts at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in which 169 Afghans and 13 American soldiers were killed last week.

Logistics for conducting air strikes

The report said that the UK is examining logistics for air strikes. It is checking where the Royal Air Force (RAF) jets would be based, how they would refuel and how targets would be identified on the ground. Wigston said that the UK needs to play a global role in the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, the US-led coalition that previously targeted ISIS in Syria and Iraq, be it by conducting air strikes or by ‘moving troops or equipment into a particular country, at scale and at speed’.

‘UK has right to self-defence’

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the country retains the right to exercise ‘self-defence’ in relation to ‘terrorist groups operating from abroad’. Responding to Wigston’s comments, he said he cannot go into ‘operational details’, but said that the UK needs to face the ‘new reality’ in the war-torn country. He said that nations will have to exercise a ‘moderating influence’ on the Taliban and hold it to the pledges it made.

‘UK still has nationals in Afghanistan’

Raab said that over 5,000 British nationals were among more than 17,000 people evacuated by the UK from Afghanistan. He highlighted that a few hundred UK nationals are still in Afghanistan.

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