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ISIS-K on back-foot in Afghanistan: Pentagon

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The Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has lost its hold in Afghanistan, days after the terror group’s head Abu Sayed, was killed by US troops in an airstrike, the Pentagon has said.

The Pentagon now estimates that ISIS-K in Afghanistan numbers somewhere in the hundreds.

“We don’t think it’s over 1,000. They hold no meaningful territory in Nangarhar province. There are certainly fighters there but they’re mostly spending their time trying to stay alive,” said Pentagon Spokesman Navy Capt Jeff Davis.

During an off-camera news conference yesterday, Davis said the killing of ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed in a drone strike last week disrupted it’s expansion plans.

“His death will further disrupt the group’s plans to expand its operations in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that this is the third time in the past year that US forces in Afghanistan have killed a sitting leader of ISIS-K.

“Killed in a kinetic strike on July 11 in Kunar, Abu Syed was the overall ISIS-K Amir in Afghanistan for only six weeks, issuing operational guidance, financial management and acting as the primary decision-maker for operations with ISIS- throughout Afghanistan,” he said.

“His death comes not long after that of his predecessor, Sheikh Abdul Hasib, who was killed by US forces in a raid on April 26 in Achin, Nangarhar province as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan,” he added.

“ISIS threatens America and the west because of its commitment to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks and its ability to recruit, move and finance the terrorists who commit these attacks,” he said, adding that the terrorists have been very clear in their propaganda magazine and other publications, that they want to recruit and attack globally.

“ISIS-K called was formed in January 2015 as a despondent group of several Islamic extremist organizations, loosely organized and committed to supporting the radical ideals of the Islamic State,” Davis said, adding that ISIS-K is committed to establishing an Afghan presence on behalf of ISIS and furthering ISIS’ Caliphate to the abolition of traditionally recognised sovereign borders.

“Their primary focus was on establishing a stronghold in Nangarhar Province but they maintain a presence in other pockets of Afghanistan. Their brutal tactics and social media use are in line with ISIS’ messaging strategy and puts them at odds with fellow organisations,” Davis said.

The Afghan forces partnered with US forces are keeping constant pressure on them.

“We assess that they are most active in Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan. We’ve been putting pressure on them as they try to gain footholds elsewhere,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

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