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CIA expanding operations against Taliban in Afghanistan: report

CIA expanding operations against Taliban in Afghanistan: report
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The CIA is increasing its covert operations in Afghanistan as groups of small, highly specialized teams pursue terrorist insurgents throughout the war-torn state, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The expanded assignments signal a shift in strategy at the CIA under its new director, Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE, according to two senior U.S. officials who spoke with the Times.

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The CIA previously aimed to beat al Qaeda and assist the Afghan intelligence service, but now the agency is stepping up its missions in Afghanistan in an open-ended campaign to hunt down the Taliban. 

“We can’t perform our mission if we’re not aggressive,” the CIA chief said at a security conference earlier this month at the University of Texas, according to the Times.

“This is unforgiving, relentless. You pick the word. Every minute, we have to be focused on crushing our enemies.”

The CIA declined the newspaper's requests for comment on the matter.

President Trump vowed in August to take a more assertive stance in combatting terrorism in the region.

“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 at the time. “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”

The special teams will focus on tracking insurgents who pose certain types of threats, like Taliban bomb makers, those aiming to retake territory in the state and other missions hidden from the public eye, the officials told the newspaper.