DAMASCUS, SYRIA (01:00 PM) – The armed forces of Afghanistan are gearing up for a large-scale offensive against the ISIS presence in the north of the country, the Afghan Ministry of Defence stated.
“(The) ministry of defence is planning to launch an operation against Daesh in the northern provinces of Sari Pul, Faryab and Jowzjan,” spokesperson Dawlat Waziri said on Tuesday.
“We know there are foreign fighters among them, but we will eliminate all of them regardless of their nationality,” he continued.
The ISIS terrorist organisation has been in Afghanistan since 2015, especially in the east and northeast of the country. Taking advantage of the unrest and continuous instability due to the Taliban uprising, the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISK) has established itself firmly in some areas of Afghanistan. Their relation with the already present Taliban militants has been prone to change, with some reports indicating cooperation between the two, while other instances saw the takfiri groups fighting one another.
After the recent loss of basically all of their occupied territory in both Syria and Iraq, reports have it that ISIS has been expanding its base of operations in Afghanistan, and is perhaps even actively moving its members to the Central Asian country. Several terrorist attacks over the past year have been claimed by ISIS, including bombings of the capital Kabul itself.
The planned Afghan government offensive comes in the wake of reports of foreign ISIS fighters and recruiters flocking to Afghanistan, including French nationals and a large number of Uzbeks.
Mohammad Reza Ghafoori, a spokesman for the governor of Jowzjan, told news outlet AFP that “The government is planning to launch an operation to clear the area from them soon.”
The anti-ISIS operation corresponds with a similar operation against the Taliban in the north of Afghanistan, in which at least 76 Taliban militants were killed on Monday.