Devil’s next target: ISIS to open new front in Afghanistan




After several months of almost daily airstrikes on the emerging Islamic State faction in Afghanistan, U.S. commanders in Kabul are scaling back their threat assessment for the Iraq- and Syria-based extremist group that was gaining a foothold last year in one key Afghan province. “The capacity of Daesh, we believe, has been lessened,” Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a top spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said Thursday, using an alternative term for the Islamic State group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL. “We do think that they are being contained more than they probably were last fall,” he said. However, he added, “we do think that they still pose a real threat. And based on their past performance, they’ve got the ability to catch fire very quickly. So we do want to continue to have constant pressure on them.” On Friday, the Afghan air force carried out an airstrike in the eastern Province of Nangarhar and killed forty fighters loyal to the ISIS. In the past few months also, the US fighter planes have struck against Islamic State fighters in Nangarhar, forcing dozens to relocate to the rugged mountains terrain of the neighbouring Province of Kunar. This is an alarming situation and clearly indicates that the Arab outfit has also developed a network in Afghanistan after gaining considerable successes in Syria, Iraq and most recently Libya where according to US intelligence estimates the number of ISIS fighters has doubled in the past year to between 4,000 and 6,000. Given the ground gained by the outfit in different parts of the world in a short span, one should have no doubt that its fighters pose an exponential threat to the Afghan territory which has already suffered a lot due to decades after decades of conflict and unrest. This new threat has many dimensions and could also have spill-over effects not only in Pakistan but the entire region. Though Pakistan Army and those at the helm of affairs have repeatedly stated that they are alive to the situation and keeping track of such elements, yet there is a need of collaborative effort both on the part of Afghanistan and Pakistan to tackle this monster head on so that it could not further spread its tentacles in the region. Pakistan has achieved tremendous successes to push the terrorists to the wall – the efforts which have also been recognized by the world community – but still the country has to do a lot for the sake of peace and stability in the whole region. We will ask Pakistani authorities to fully support Afghans and provide them all the necessary technical, administrative and other assistance to crush the evil of ISIS before it could seep into other territories.