US says it will intensify counter-IS fight in Afghanistan

The top American commander in Afghanistan says the Kabul government's unilateral halt to attacks on the Taliban gives U.S. combat forces an opportunity to intensify attacks against an Islamic State-affiliated extremist group in eastern Afghanistan.

Army Gen. John Nicholson made the comment to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers where he was providing updates on the war against the Taliban. Nicholson said he could not predict whether the Taliban will join the cease-fire announced this week by President Ashraf Ghani.

Nicholson said Ghani's ceasefire does not apply to the separate fight U.S. counterterrorism forces are engaged in against IS-related fighters in eastern Afghanistan. He said that fight already is intensifying in Nangarhar province and will now be stepped up further.