US F-18 fighter jets flew over the Afghan capital of Kabul to ensure security around the airport area, Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor said on Thursday.
“As we look at the last 24 hours, F-18s from the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group flew armed over watched flights over Kabul to ensure enhanced security,” Taylor said during a briefing.
Taylor added that the F-18 jets are flying continuously in support of the US efforts to evacuate Americans and allies from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby denied that the deployment of F-18 jets is the first armed flight since the beginning of non-combatant evacuations in Afghanistan.
“Our mission in Afghanistan is now conducting a non-combatant evacuation in a safe way… Our main mission is airport security, help to get people out,” Kirby said.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as Da’esh is now expanding its presence in Afghanistan and has financial reserves estimated between $25 million and $50 million, the latest United Nations report on global terrorism delivered to the UN Security Council said on Thursday.
“Da’esh in Afghanistan has prioritized the recruitment and training of new supporters,” the report said. “Estimates of the affiliate’s strength range widely, with one Member State reporting between 500 and 1,500 fighters, and another stating that it may rise to as many as 10,000 in the medium term.”
The terror group has also expanded its presence in several provinces of Afghanistan and strengthened its positions in and around Kabul, where it has targeted most of its attacks against minorities, civil society actors, government employees and personnel of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, the report added.
Earlier on Sunday, the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan by entering Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani resigned and fled the country. Numerous countries chose to evacuate their citizens and diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan due to the precarious security situation.