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US hails Afghan forces offensives against Daesh

US hails Afghan forces offensives against Daesh

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Mar 02, 2017 - 13:01

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Successful military offensives conducted by Afghan security forces backed by US air support against the Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistaninfo-icon during the past year brought down the number of its militants to about 700, US military in Afghanistan has said.

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the U.S. military spokesman, provided the latest assessment Wednesday at a news conference in Kabul. He lauded the Afghan partners for their successes against the affiliates of the Middle East-based terrorist group Daesh.

Cleveland said one year back there were somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 IS members mainly in eastern Nangarhar province near the border with Pakistaninfo-icon.

“They were occupying almost 11 districts in that area and they were bringing all sorts of pain and pressure to the people of southern Nangarhar,” the spokesman added.

“We believe that there are approximately 700 members of ISIS, perhaps even less now based on the operations, that are still contained to less than three districts down in southern Nangarhar,” said Cleveland.

He said Afghan forces launched a fresh operation in two districts in the province about a month ago with the assistance of U.S. airpower, and the effort is progressing well.

The spokesman reiterated that IS militants are primarily active in Nangarhar and in nearby districts of neighboring Kunar province, but he denied the existence of the terrorist outfit in northern Afghan regions, citing intelligence gathered by the U.S. military.

Cleveland said the U.S. military was able to kill 12 top leaders of IS, including its regional chief, in 2016, degrading the terrorist threat in Afghanistan.

The US military spokesman criticised Russia and Iran for maintaining overt contacts with the Talibaninfo-icon insurgency, saying it undermined the Afghan government’s efforts against terrorist forces in the country.

Moscow and Tehran believed the emergence of IS loyalists in Afghanistan poses a threat to their regional interests and territorial boundaries, and justifies their ties with the Taliban, saying the Islamist insurgency is fighting IS to prevent it from expanding its influence in the war-torn country.

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