Afghan Interior Minister declares defeat of ISIS in Nangarhar

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Afghanistan’s Islamic State branch has been “defeated” in the eastern province of Nangarhar where it was seeking to establish a stronghold, the country’s acting interior minister said on Sunday.

The Islamic State was involved in the Afghan conflict in 2015 when it took control of large swathes of Nangarhar and Kumar states near the border with Pakistan.

In the years that followed, the group adopted a series of horrific bombings in Afghanistan, including a wedding in Kabul, and has been constantly attacked by US, Afghan and even Taliban.

Afghanistan’s acting interior minister told reporters in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, that the Islamic State had been “defeated in Nangarhar and its posts destroyed,” amid ongoing operations against jihadists.

“We will soon destroy their last centers. With the help of the people, we will eliminate them completely. There are small groups belonging to them surrendering, and other small groups will be eliminated in another state.”

Andrabi said ISIS was suffering a “total defeat” in Afghanistan.

US forces in Afghanistan, which are closely monitoring the group’s presence in Afghanistan, would not comment, referring to the Interior Ministry.

The spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, Attaullah Khogyani, announced the surrender of 32 ISIS fighters to government forces on Saturday.

“They are surrendering in large numbers,” he told AFP.

The Islamic State has suffered major losses in recent months, most notably the collapse of the group’s “succession” in Syria and the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US operation inside Syrian territory last month.

Relations have always been strained between Baghdadi and the branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, known as the Islamic State – Khorasan Province.

But Khojiani said Baghdadi’s death was a blow to ISIL’s leadership and structure.

“This has affected the fighters on the ground here,” he said. “They either surrender to the government or go back to the normal life they were living” before joining the group.

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