Turf war between ISIS, Taliban continues in Tora Bora

AFP and Staff


Afghan troops patrol during an anti-ISIS operation in Chaparhar District, Nangarhar Province, May 21. Chaparhar is free of ISIS now, said military officials June 16. Afghan troops are moving on to Tora Bora. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

JALALABAD -- "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters have captured Tora Bora, a mountain cave complex in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday (June 15).

But by Friday (June 16), Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) had already launched an operation against ISIS in Tora Bora, Ministry of Defence spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri told Salaam Times.

"The operation against ISIS in Tora Bora has started, and today we killed 11 ISIS fighters and injured dozens of them," he said.

On the first day of the operation, Afghan commandos and warplanes and the 201st Silab Corps cleared ISIS from Chaparhar District, said Waziri.

"We are going to take control of Tora Bora very soon," he said, adding that a majority of ISIS fighters in the area are foreign.

"Out of every ten ISIS fighters in Chaparhar District, six of them are not Afghan," he said.

Gen. Mohammad Zaman Waziri, commander of the 201st Corps in Nangarhar Province, praised the success of the Afghan military's counter-terrorism operations.

"In the past two years, ISIS has suffered heavy losses, and just in the past three months, ANDSF have killed 700 militants, including ISIS leaders," he told Salaam Times.

Battle between ISIS, Taliban

ISIS seized Tora Bora from the Taliban this week just two months after the US military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on a nearby ISIS stronghold in Nangarhar Province.

Tora Bora fell to ISIS after days of heavy fighting that forced hundreds of residents to flee.

The Taliban retreated from large parts of Tora Bora, confirmed local tribesmen.

"When ISIS fighters launched their operation to seize Tora Bora, the Taliban fled and left us alone to protect our women and children," Juma Khan, a tribesman who escaped with hundreds of other residents, told AFP.

Government forces and the NATO coalition had lately engaged in little fighting against Taliban insurgents who dominated Tora Bora and who had support from local tribes along the mountainous border with Pakistan.

Since first emerging in 2015, ISIS's local affiliate has made inroads into Afghanistan, overrunning large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces and challenging the bigger Taliban militant movement on its own turf.

The fall of Tora Bora prompted heated discussion in the Afghan parliament, with lawmakers warning the government of growing ISIS activity in eastern Afghanistan.

[Najibullah from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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