Graveyard for ISIS? President Ghani claims victory over jihadists in eastern Afghanistan

© Omar Sobhani
Terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has been dislodged from eastern Afghanistan, according to President Ashraf Ghani.

Afghan forces have claimed a victory in a 21-day operation in the Achin and Shinwar districts of the Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan. About 200 IS militants are said to have been killed in the military operation.

“Afghanistan will be their [IS] graveyard,” Ghani said in a TV address, AP reports.
The operation included airstrikes which destroyed IS bases and a radio station used by jihadists to broadcast recruiting messages across the Nangarhar province.

"The aim of the operation in Nangarhar was to root out IS from the area," said Afghan Army Lt. Col Sharin Aqa, a spokesman for the 201 Corps, AP reports.

Local residents are said to have aided the state troops by setting up checkpoints to maintain security in their villages. These local anti-IS uprisings played an important role for the success of the Afghan forces.

The IS militants took control of several mountainous regions in Eastern Afghanistan last year. Most of the Afghan IS fighters are believed to be disaffected Taliban militants.

IS and Taliban are involved in hostilities not only with government troops but also with each other.

“During the last month or two, we have recorded it [the conflict between ISIS and Taliban] in the city of Herat [Herat province, western Afghanistan], Zabul province [south] and Nangarhar province [east]. In Nangakhar, most intensively,” Nicholas Haysom, who once served as the UN Secretary-General’s deputy special representative in Afghanistan, said in December.

In order to retain stability after the withdrawal of most coalition troops the Afghan authorities are trying to involve Taliban in peace talks. However, on Saturday Taliban leaders said they would not participate in peace talks with Afghanistan’s government until foreign forces stop attacking their installations and leave the country.