US military commanders have been given the authority to target militant Islamic State group fighters in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Thursday, the first such order beyond Iraq and Syria, where the militants control parts of both countries.
The US State Department said last week that it had designated IS’s offshoot in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan, as a foreign terrorist organisation.
US forces could previously strike IS in Afghanistan but it was under more narrow circumstances, such as for protection of troops.
Senator John McCain of Arizona, a Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, “seems to be waking up to the fact that more than a year into the US military campaign, ISIL’s reach is global and growing”.
McCain told a hearing on Thursday that the authorisation given by the White House was much needed and “many of us may be interested to know that we confined our attacks on ISIL to Iraq and Syria.” A Pentagon spokesman, said there had been an adjustment to the authorisation for US forces in Afghanistan.