KOT, Afghanistan -- Afghan forces have decimated the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in Kot District, Nangarhar Province.
The terrorist group suffered a major defeat, as Afghan troops conducted air and ground assaults to wipe out the militants who had been brutalising the civilian population.
The troops, including army commandos, destroyed many ISIL strongholds throughout the district.
"We killed dozens of ISIL terrorists," Gholam Hazrat, commander of the Afghan National Army (ANA) 1st Commando Battalion, told Salaam Times. "We seized many documents proving this group's level of terrorism and barbarism."
"We have an operation under way in Nazian, Achin, Spin Ghar and Haska Mina districts with the goal of destroying ISIL," Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told Salaam Times. "In the most recent operation ... we wiped out 27 ISIL centres in Nangarhar and killed or injured hundreds of ISIL members."
Within two weeks, Afghan troops have killed 14 ISIL commanders, according to the Defence Ministry.
Atrocities by ISIL
Locals bitterly remember the atrocities that ISIL committed in the district.
"ISIL members decapitated a number of residents in our district in front of my eyes," Shah Wali, a Kot resident who returned after troops expelled ISIL from his neighbourhood, told Salaam Times.
However, during his absence, "ISIL members burned down my house", he discovered. "ISIL burned down all my possessions or stole them."
A Kot resident who endured a year of living with ISIL in Kot had his own nightmarish memories.
"During that year ... ISIL committed numerous acts of torture, repression and subjugation," the resident, who requested anonymity, told Salaam Times. ISIL's "heinous crimes" included "'executing' a large number of Kot residents, forcibly entering residents' houses, seizing civilians' food and money, kidnapping women, shutting down schools and training children to commit suicide bombings", he added.
Hundreds of families had to flee, he said.
"They used civilians and their houses as shields," Hazrat said. "They also trained children to ... go on suicide missions."
Kot residents are elated to see ISIL's defeat and are hoping for stability.
"After a year of living under ISIL's terror and threats, I am starting to feel more liberated," the anonymous Kot resident said.
"The next phase of our operation will be ... restoring security and stability to Kot District," Hazrat added.
"Our operations will continue until we have annihilated the last member of ISIL," Waziri said.
Residents of Kot are urging the government to secure the whole district so that ISIL cannot commit more atrocities someday.
"Our promise to the people of Nangarhar, and especially to the residents of Kot District, is that we will be providing security after we complete the military operation in their area," Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Salaam Times.
During a July 29 session of the National Security Council, Ghani ordered security forces to continue their operations in Nangarhar until they had destroyed ISIL.