US says Taliban 'armed insurgency', ISIL 'terrorist' group

Washington: The United States has described the Afghan Taliban as "an armed insurgency", while the Islamic State as a "terrorist" group, drawing a controversial distinction between the two militant organisations.

"The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) is a terrorist group. So we don't make concessions to terrorist groups," White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters in response to questions at the daily press briefing yesterday.

Asked whether the Jordanian government's decision to swap prisoner with the ISIL was similar to the US trading five Taliban members for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, he said, "As you know, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens."

"As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The president's bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind. That's the principle he was operating under," he said.

When asked for a second time whether the Taliban is a terrorist group, Schultz replied, "I don't think that the Taliban, - the Taliban is an armed insurgency."

"This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan and that's why this arrangement was dealt," he added, referring to the prisoner swap deal with Taliban brokered through Qatar.

Though the State Department has not designated the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, it has designated its allies - the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network.

The US is offering up to USD 10 million for information leading to the capture of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. ISIL or IS is an al-Qaeda splinter group and it has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria, declaring
an Islamic Caliphate.

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