Top U.S. General Says ISIS Will Be Crushed in Afghanistan After Trump Announcement

General John Nicholson
U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, takes part in a press conference in Kabul on August 24. Afghanistan has welcomed Trump's move to commit thousands more troops to America's longest war, reversing earlier pledges to pull out, but Taliban insurgents vowed to make the country a "graveyard" for U.S. forces. Shah Marai/AFP/Getty

The U.S. military is going to crush the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Afghanistan, the top American general in the country has said after President Donald Trump announced Washington's new strategy in the region.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul Thursday, General John Nicholson said the U.S. would not only defeat ISIS, but Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban's militant activity. He called on the Taliban to return to diplomacy, after years of a failed peace process with the Afghan government.

"We will not fail in Afghanistan," Nicholson said. He claimed Trump's new policy showed his administration's commitment to shaping a stable future for Afghanistan.

Nicholson's strong rhetoric came after the U.S. president outlined plans to escalate the military campaign in Afghanistan, without providing specific details. In a speech Tuesday, he railed against an exit from Afghanistan, despite previously advocating for his predecessor Barack Obama to take the U.S. out of the country.

Trump said more troops were required to close spaces that allow extremist groups to thrive.

"The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable," he said. "A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, would instantly fill."

Officials have indicated that the expansion of the military campaign will see an additional 4,000 U.S. troops deployed alongside the approximately 8,000 already in the country.

ISIS has gained in influence in the country, setting up an affiliate in the eastern province of Nangarhar. The extremist militant group has claimed responsibility for several mass casualty attacks in Kabul, and as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria, there are fears that the group could shift its focus to Afghanistan, where the government is already battling a years-long insurgency by the Taliban.

The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, known locally as the Islamic State in Khorasan, or ISIS-K, is active in several Afghan provinces, including the northern provinces of Badakhshan, Jawzjan and Faryab, and the western provinces of Ghor and Baghdis.

In response to Trump's announcement, the Taliban warned the U.S. that until every American soldier left Afghanistan, it would make the country the "graveyard for the American empire."

"If the U.S. does not pull all its forces out of Afghanistan, we will make this country the 21st-century graveyard for the American empire," the Taliban's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement.

The Taliban have battled American forces ever since they entered Afghanistan in 2001, backing Afghan forces to overthrow their rule in the country. Washington now backs the government of President Ashraf Ghani.