Washington: The US is monitoring the movement of the Islamic State and its affiliated groups in Afghanistan besides helping the latter's security forces to fight out the terrorist organization which is trying to expand its base rapidly in the war-torn country, a top American official has said.
"We are always looking at ISIL's (Islamic State's) ability to find safe haven and then expand to work with, these affiliate groups, factions of groups such as the Taliban that they might be able to exploit. We are monitoring it very closely," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Wednesday.
"We're in close contact and coordination with the Afghan Security Forces in that regard, and we're going to continue. If we see opportunities to take out key leadership, we're going to strike," he said while responding to a question and reiterated that reconciliation process with the Taliban needs to be an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process".
"Any time you've got various splinter groups emerging, that does make those efforts more complex, but that remains our overarching goal and what we view as really the long-term solution for Afghanistan to achieve peace and stability. But I don't have an assessment of what the latest development might mean for prospects, but we continue to encourage those efforts," he said.
The US is monitoring the presence of Islamic State-affiliated groups very closely in Afghanistan, he said.
"We're actively engaged with the Government of Afghanistan and our partners in the region to prevent that from taking place. We don't want to see them gain safe haven or material support from the Taliban or anyone," he added.
Asserting that the US has made a long-term commitment to Afghanistan, Toner said it would continue to help Afghanistan build a more stable, peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future.