by Jason Ditz
Delivering its bi-annual assessment of Afghanistan to Congress, the Pentagon today warned that the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan has progressed beyond its “initial exploratory phase to a point where they are openly fighting the Taliban for the establishment of a safe haven, and are becoming more operationally active.”
Previously, officials had downplayed talk of ISIS in Afghanistan being more than a passing branding effort by some disaffected figures in the Taliban, but growing in-fighting in the Taliban, and the ISIS affiliate asserting itself with some territory of its own, appears to be shifting this perspective.
Gen. John Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan, confirmed that the ISIS faction is growing, and is trying to establish itself out of the city of Jalalabad, saying that there are growing numbers of foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria showing up on the ground there.
With the Taliban’s leadership still in disarray, a situation that has grown even worse, and with two factions vying for leadership in the Taliban, ISIS is offering a unified alternative for recruits, giving them a potential new pool of fighters.