The ISIS branch in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for attacks against the Taliban in early February 2020.
This is the group’s first activity since November 2019. The militants said they threw grenades at the location of Taliban militants in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. Two Taliban were killed in the attack, another was injured.
Despite the fact that the stronghold of the Islamic State in Afghanistan is the province of Nangarhar, during the strong days of the branch, attacks in the neighboring Kunar province were not uncommon.
The Taliban didn’t respond to the attack, or simply haven’t yet done so.
In early February, one of the Taliban-related resources shared his vision of the reasons for the decline in ISIS activity in Afghanistan.
According to him, the branch of jihadists has reduced its activity after reports of the liquidation of the leader of the militants upon impact from an UAV appeared.
However, as it turned out in August 2019, he managed to survive. The Taliban also launched large-scale campaigns against ISIS in the provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar. Taliban-led operations led to the killing and capture of militants who were responsible for various activities, including and for propaganda, which significantly affected the number of messages from the region.
Now the downturn in ISIS activity is also explained by the fact that some of the Islamists became disillusioned with the group and left its ranks, while the other took refuge in the mountains, where there is no way to conduct active media activities.
The Taliban are the ones who are predominantly countering ISIS’ activities in Afghanistan, and the reason why the group has such a weak representation.
There is a concentration of militants near the borders of the former CIS republics, but their efforts are predominantly focused towards the border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, who are reportedly aiming to cause a destabilization in Central Asia. They, however, appear disinterested in carrying out active attacks in Afghanistan, mostly because the Taliban haven prove to be much better at fighting them than the US or the Afghan government forces.
On November 28th, US President Donald Trump visited the Bagram Airfield to meet the soldiers and attempt to claim the credit for defeating ISIS in Afghanistan, similarly to what Washington’s been trying to do in Iraq and Syria.
“There’s almost nothing left in this area. And al-Qaida, the same thing. And tremendous progress,” Trump told U.S. troops during the visit. “And we — we’ve got them down to very low numbers. We’ll have that totally taken care of in a very short period of time.”
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad admitted that the Taliban was successfully fighting ISIS, however.
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) December 3, 2019
Similarly to the situation in Iraq, where the Popular Mobilization Units were the party predominantly responsible for defeating ISIS, and in Syria, where the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Russia defeated most of the group, in Afghanistan it was the Taliban who did it.
The US and Co., however, never shy away from claiming other’s credit when it comes to presumably defeating terrorism.
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