The New York Times newspaper reports that the CIA is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan in order to hunt and kill Taliban militants.
The report on October 22 quotes two unnamed senior U.S. officials who say the CIA’s paramilitary division is deploying small teams of experienced officers and private contractors alongside Afghan forces to carry out the assignment.
The report says the effort is being managed by the CIA’s Special Activities Division.
The newspaper says the assignment is the latest sign of the CIA’s increasingly integral role in President Donald Trump’s counterterrorism strategy.
The CIA declined to comment about its expanded role in Afghanistan.
The agency previously has been focused more on defeating Al-Qaeda militants and helping Afghanistan’s intelligence service than engaging in combat directly against the Afghan Taliban.
But Trump said in August that he would loosen restrictions on hunting down militants.
“The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms,” Trump said.
The U.S. military already has significantly increased its air strikes against Taliban militants in Afghanistan in recent months, including its use of drone strikes.