KABUL -- The Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) are making major progress in defeating "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) militants in the country, Afghan officials told Salaam Times.
The latest blow in a month of major defeats for the militant group came July 24 in Nangarhar Province, a day after two ISIL suicide bombers killed at least 80 and injured hundreds in Kabul.
In an overnight raid in Kot District, Afghan forces killed about 122 militants, including Saad al-Emirati, a founding member of ISIL's Afghanistan-Pakistan branch. He led several terrorist attacks and was known for his brutality.
Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for Nangarhar's governor, confirmed al-Emirati's death.
"He was the main player who established the group in Afghanistan," Khogyani told Salaam Times. "His death is a major blow to the terrorist organisation."
"The military operation against ISIL in Kot District of Nangarhar is a success story for the Afghan security forces; it means they are able to defeat every enemy of the country and people," he said.
"Our brave forces have defeated ISIL and the Taliban in Nangarhar, and now they are working to clear the whole province."
"Afghan forces are winning," he said. "Likewise, the backbone of ISIL has been broken."
ANDSF have support of the people
Afghan forces expelled ISIL from Kot after four days of fierce fighting, Ghulam Hazrat, leader of an ANDSF commando unit in eastern Afghanistan, said.
"Including Saad al-Emirati, Afghan forces recently killed at least 122 insurgents in Kot and are now clearing the district [so that] people will return home," he told Salaam Times.
Afghan forces also arrested 22 other ISIL fighters in the operations in Kot, he said.
"Afghan security forces are built along modern lines," he said, referring to their ability to fight a modern war. "They have the support of the people. The people believe in them."
In the fighting in Kot, Afghan troops seized several buildings that ISIL had been using as a kangaroo court, training centres and offices, Afghan National Army (ANA) commando Samiullah told Salaam Times.
"The ANDSF are continuing their operations in other areas to clear the insurgents from the province," he said. "We will not leave a single enemy of our people in any part of Nangarhar."
Afghan forces are assuring the people that they have expelled insurgents from Kot and will continue driving ISIL out of other Nangarhar districts, Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), told Salaam Times.
"The ANDSF will not let insurgents come back to this district and kill elders and religious scholars," he told Salaam Times.
With the operation in Kot leading to the death of al-Emirati, Waziri said, "again we demonstrated our ability to work together as a national security force this time during combat operations in eastern Afghanistan."
The ANDSF, along with the Afghan National Civil Order Police, Afghan Uniformed Police, Afghan Local Police and the Afghan Air Force, conducted a clearing operation designed to disrupt networks of ISIL and other enemies of Afghanistan in Kot, he said.
"There has been great co-operation with the army," Waziri said of the other forces. "They've come together for decisions about what to do, and then they employ the right tool to have the best possible effect."