Posts Tagged ‘ISIS-K’

Senior Islamic State commanders killed in Afghanistan air strike: U.S. military

August 13, 2017

By Josh Smith

Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) – Several senior members of Islamic State’s central Asian affiliate were killed in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The attack on Thursday killed Abdul Rahman, identified by the U.S. military as the Kunar provincial emir for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, according to a statement from the command in Kabul.

“The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K,” said General John Nicholson, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Image result for Abdul Rahman, afghanistan, photos

Abdul Rahman

Three other senior ISIS-K members were also among those killed in the strike in eastern Kunar province.

Nicholson has vowed to defeat Islamic State militants in Afghanistan this year.

The group’s emir, Abu Sayed, was reported killed in a strike on his headquarters in Kunar in July, the third Islamic State emir in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2016.

In April, Nicholson deployed a 21,600-pound (9,797 kg) “Massive Ordnance Air Blast” bomb against Islamic State positions in neighboring Nangarhar province, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used by the United States in combat.

Image result for Nangarhar, afghanistan, photos

Smoke rises after the U.S. strikes positions during an ongoing operation against ISIS in Nangarhar province

On Saturday, Afghan officials said as many as 16 civilians, including women and children, had been killed by a U.S. air strike in Nangarhar, but American officials said only militants were killed.

As part of an increased campaign against both Islamic State and the Taliban, the dominant Islamist militant group in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force has dropped nearly 2,000 weapons in the country as of the end of July, compared to fewer than 1,400 in all of last year.

Despite some battlefield successes by Afghan and American special operations troops, Islamic State has continued deadly attacks around Afghanistan, fueling fears that the group is seeking to bring the group’s Middle East conflict to Central Asia.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Kim Coghill

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US aims to eliminate IS from Afghanistan this year

May 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Thomas WATKINS | Afghan security forces taking on Islamic State militants — the local offshoot first emerged in 2015

WASHINGTON (AFP) – After dropping a monster bomb on its fighters, then targeting its leader, the US military is looking to destroy the Islamic State group’s Afghan branch before battle-hardened reinforcements arrive from Syria and Iraq.

While US and Kabul government forces have mainly been combatting Taliban fighters since 2001, IS’s local offshoot — also known as Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K — has a stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

First emerging in 2015, ISIS-K overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border, but their part in the Afghan conflict had been largely overshadowed by the operations against the Taliban.

Many Americans first heard of ISIS-K last month when the US dropped the “Mother Of All Bombs” on its Nangarhar bastion — an aerial munition that the Pentagon said was the biggest non-nuclear weapon it had ever used in combat.

US and Afghan forces then raided a compound last week close to the site of the bombing, with the Pentagon saying it believed it had killed ISIS-K’s leader Abdul Hasib during the operation.

Captain Bill Salvin, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said the local IS presence peaked at between 2,500 to 3,000 but that defections and recent battlefield losses had reduced their number to a maximum of 800.

“We have a very good chance of destroying them in 2017, making it very clear that when the ISIS fighters are destroyed elsewhere around the globe that this is not the place for you to come to plot your attacks,” Salvin told AFP.

US-backed fighters also appear to have IS on the ropes in Syria and Iraq, where an operation to wrest back control of the major northern city of Mosul has been ongoing since October.

– Jihadists on the move –

But both the military and analysts acknowledge there is a danger of IS fighters heading to Afghanistan if they are forced out of Iraq and Syria.

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said that while IS should ultimately be defeated in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s timeline may be overly optimistic.

A definitive victory could take “a long time due, partly (due) to the proximity of Pakistan as well as the possible flow of fighters” from the Middle East as the “group loses sanctuaries there,” O’Hanlon told AFP.

The Taliban, which first emerged in the mid-1990s in southern Afghanistan, managed to conquer most of the country before its 2001 ouster with the help of a range of foreign jihadists, including Pakistanis, Saudis and Chechens.

Analysts say that as well as Afghans, ISIS-K includes disaffected Pakistani and Uzbek Islamists among its ranks who used to fight for the Taliban.

It first emerged as a significant player in Afghanistan in early 2015 when its fighters overran the Taliban in parts of the east and has subsequently claimed responsibility for a string of bomb attacks.

ISIS-K’s defeat would be an important victory for the US, which has struggled to boast of clear wins after forcing the Taliban out of Kabul in 2001 in the initial aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal, said ISIS-K had “withstood multiple US-backed offensives over the past two years.”

But while their defeat would be a boost to the US, Roggio said the Taliban and their long-time Al-Qaeda allies were still a much bigger challenge.

“It’s not that they don’t pose a threat, but I would argue that the Taliban pose a far greater threat to the stability of Afghanistan,” Roggio told AFP.

“It would be basically winning a battle, but we are still losing the war, which is basically the story of Afghanistan since we’ve been involved there.”

America has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. Most belong to a NATO mission to train and advise Afghan partner forces fighting the Taliban.

by Thomas WATKINS