Acting Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi told reporters during a press briefing in Jalalabad, Nangarhar’s provincial capital, on Sunday that Daesh militants “were defeated and their centers were destroyed” in the troubled province.
He said the terrorists were being “completely defeated” in various parts of the war-ravaged Afghanistan, Presstv Reported.
“We will soon destroy their last centers. With the people’s help, we will completely eliminate them. Some of their smaller groups are surrendering, other small groups will be eliminated in other provinces.”
Meanwhile, Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, said 32 Daesh terrorists had surrendered to government forces on Saturday. “They are coming in big numbers,” he said.
Connections between the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was allegedly killed in a United States raid in Syria last month, and Daesh-affiliated terrorists of the so-called ISIS-K group in Afghanistan have always been murky.
But Khogyani said Baghdadi’s death had disrupted the so-called ISIS-K’s command and control structure. “It has affected the fighters on the ground here, they are either surrendering to the government or going back to their ordinary lives.”
The Daesh militants first burst into Afghanistan’s conflict in 2015, when they overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistani border.
In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.
The comments by Andarabi seemed to be in contrast with those of the chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, who told a regional security forum in Tashkent on Thursday that Daesh was setting up a base in Afghanistan to target former Soviet states using militants from Central Asia.
“We are seeing increased activities of Daesh branches in Afghanistan,” Bortnikov said. “Their goal is to increase a base to expand into the CIS (ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States) territory.”
In recent years, Daesh has established a foothold in eastern and northern Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, a report suggested that the US military had been allowing members of Daesh and their weapons into Afghanistan following the terror group’s recent defeats in Syria and Iraq.
In April, unnamed US officials warned that Daesh-affiliated terrorists in Afghanistan were preparing to carry out attacks on the US mainland, USA Today reported.