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Islamic State Launches Operations in Afghanistan, Plans Expansion

© REUTERS / Stringer Islamic State flag
Islamic State flag - Sputnik International
Around 70 Islamic State militants are operating in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz with plans to expand, according to Kunduz Governor Mohammad Safi.

MOSCOW, February 2 (Sputnik) — The Islamic State (IS) began operations in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz and plans to launch operations in other northern areas of the country, the Kunduz governor said Monday.

Governor Mohammad Safi said that about 70 IS militants are operating in several districts of Kunduz and plan to expand operations to neighboring provinces, Afghan news agency Khaama Press reported.

According to Khaama, the extremist group also launched operations in the south of the country, namely in the Zabul, Helmand and Ghazni provinces, where it has been battling the local Taliban militant group.

General John Francis Campbell, current commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces in Afghanistan - Sputnik International
US General Says Islamic State Recruiting Fighters in Afghanistan, Pakistan
Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday there was not “a great deal” of evidence the IS was operating in Afghanistan. Bishop, however, agreed that there was the danger of the radical group working with the Taliban.

"But there is the concern that should ISIL [IS] turn its attentions away from Iraq and Syria there is an element of the Taleban [Taliban] that would be receptive to its brutal ideology. We are aware of it,” Bishop was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

In January, NATO confirmed that the IS was recruiting fighters in Afghanistan, in areas with Taliban presence. Despite the two groups having differing ideologies, there is a possibility of Taliban defectors working with the IS.

The IS Sunni extremist group began fighting the Syrian government in 2012, later expanding into Iraq. The militant group controls large swathes of land in both countries and declared a caliphate on the areas it controls. The Taliban, which increased its activities in 2014, also intends to establish an Islamic state in Afghanistan.

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