IS radio station destroyed, 34 militants killed in Afghanistan

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 10, 2017

The leader of the Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan who orchestrated audacious attacks that further upended the country's deteriorating security situation was killed in a special operations forces raid in April, the president of Afghanistan said in a statement on Sunday.

A radio station airing Islamic State content was destroyed during an operation in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, local media reported.

A US military spokesman in Kabul, Navy Capt. William Salvin, estimated that the ISIS-K force has now been reduced from more than 2,500 fighters at its peak in 2015 to less than 600, mostly confined to several adjacent districts in Nangahar.

The offensive in Nangahar province aims to strike Islamic State fighters when their numbers are down and their leadership could be in disarray after a US-Afghan commando raid late last month killed a militant leader, Abdul Hasib. Hasib's predecessor was obliterated by a US drone strike previous year.

The operation took place a fortnight after United States forces had dropped their biggest non-nuclear bomb on a network of tunnels and caves being used by Isis near by. Like Hasib, his death was seen as a setback, but not a mortal blow to the group. They will simply put another leader in place, he added. Dozens of medical staff and patients were killed in the attack.

First emerging in Afghanistan in 2015, the jihadist group overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border. According to the US Forces-Afghanistan, defections and recent battlefield losses have reduced the local IS presence from a peak of as many as 3,000 fighters to a maximum of 800. The impact point of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast - dubbed the Mother of All... The blast killed at least 95 jihadists, according to the Afghan defense ministry, but North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials have said they are still assessing the damage. The attack triggered global shockwaves, as observers questioned the bomb's use against a militant group that is not considered as big a threat to Afghanistan as the Taleban.

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan since 2001, when American troops overthrew the Taliban regime that was in power at the time.

The plan envisions an increase of at least 3,000 US troops to an existing force of about 8,400.

"This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K in 2017", the top US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement issued Sunday from USA military headquarters in Kabul.

Commanders decided on a ground assault, instead of another airstrike, to kill or capture Hasib because women and children were living in his compound, said a USA military official who asked not to be identified when providing operational details, adding that none of them had been hurt in the raid.

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