IS Gaining Ground in Afghanistan

IS Gaining Ground in Afghanistan

The Islamic State militant group is making inroads in Afghanistan, winning over a growing number of sympathizers and recruiting followers in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces, a UN report said Friday.
The group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has been trying to establish itself in Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their own turf, AFP reported.
Afghan security forces told UN sanctions monitors that about 10% of the Taliban insurgency are IS sympathizers, according to the report by the UN’s Al-Qaeda monitoring team.
“The number of groups and individuals who are openly declaring either loyalty to or sympathy with IS continues to grow in a number of provinces in Afghanistan,” said the report.
Afghan government sources said “sightings of the groups with some form of IS branding” or sympathy were reported in 25 provinces in the war-torn country, it added.
The IS-backed groups “regularly engage” Afghan military forces, but fighting with other parts of the insurgency are rare, except in Nangarhar province where they are battling the Taliban for control of the drug trade.
Foreign fighters from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, some of whom have close ties to Al-Qaeda, have come under the IS banner after fleeing their country and have “rebranded themselves” in recent months, the report said.
Afghan security authorities do not consider IS an “immediate increased threat” but they are keeping an eye on the situation as a “potential new threat”, it added.


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