The Pentagon admitted on Friday that the Taliban released “thousands” of Isis-K militants from US prisons in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was asked how many members of Isis-K, a wing of the Islamic State based in Afghanistan, were released from the prison at Bagram and why they were not removed before the United States began its exact number.

“I don’t know the exact number, clearly it’s in the thousands but when you consider both prisons,” he said.

The remarks came at a news briefing on Friday, a day after an attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport that the United States has said was likely committed by Isis-K killed 13 US service members.

A reporter asked why he could be so sure the Taliban was not responsible for the attack, and if they are ruling out the Taliban because the United States depends on them right now. Mr Kirby responded by saying he didn’t hear Central Command leader Gen Kenneth McKenzie put it that way.

“The general said there was a failure somewhere, obviously, and he even alluded to the fact it could have been at a Taliban checkpoint,” he said. “So we’ve not been certain about that at all. There’ll be an investigation. We’ll try to learn as much as we can about what happened and I don’t really want to get ahead of that process.”

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