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US to keep pressure on IS, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: CENTCOM

Washington: Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), has said that Washington will seek to “keep pressure” on the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda terror groups in Afghanistan, a media report said.

“We will still do everything we can to keep pressure on the IS and Al Qaeda, from our over-the-horizon locations,” TOLO News quoted McKenzie as saying in an interview with Military Times.

Regarding a recent UN report warning that the Taliban appeared poised to take back control of Afghanistan, McKenzie said: “We still intend to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. We’re still going to support them with funding.

“We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.

“I don’t want to minimize this, because I think they’re going to be tested, but we will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now.”

Asked if the US would provide any combat support to Afghan forces if major cities such as Kabul were at risk of being overrun, McKenzie said: “Those are actually policy decisions, not military decisions. Right now what we’re planning to do after we withdraw is keep pressure on Al Qaeda and IS, and that would be what we’d be doing, going back into Afghanistan.”

The withdrawal of international troops is due to be completed by September 11 at the latest.

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IS claims responsibility for deadly attack in Austria

Vienna: Austrian investigators were piecing together the Nov 2 rampage through central Vienna by a lone gunman and later claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Four people were killed when Kujtim Fejzulai, described as a 20-year-old IS sympathizer who had spent time in prison, opened fire with a Kalashnikov in a busy area of the Austrian capital the day before the country went into a new coronavirus lockdown.

IS — which has claimed numerous attacks in Europe — said a “soldier of the caliphate” was responsible for the carnage, according to its propaganda agency.

Police shot the gunman dead and later swooped on 18 different addresses and made 14 arrests as they looked for possible accomplices and sought to determine if he had acted alone.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the shooting as a “repulsive terror attack”.

He called on the European Union to fight against “political Islam” saying it was an ideology that represented a “danger” to the model of the European way of life, in an interview published in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.

The attack came after several Islamist atrocities in France, including an assault on churchgoers in the Mediterranean city of Nice and the beheading of a schoolteacher near Paris.

The recent re-publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in France has caused new tensions worldwide, sparking protests in some Muslim-majority countries and calls from several terror groups for their followers to take revenge.

We will not give in: Macron after Vienna attack

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron has said his country and its citizens share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people following the shootings in Vienna, pledging that “our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give in.”

“After France, it is a friendly country that is attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give in,” Macron wrote on Twitter.

France has been placed on its highest level of terrorism alert since three people were killed by a knife attack at the Notre-Dame basilica in the southern city of Nice.

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