Afghanistan – Unrest – US – ISIS

ISIS Resilient in Afghanistan despite Leader’s Death

ISIS Resilient in Afghanistan despite Leader’s Death
Sat Aug 13, 2016 19:29:10

The killing of the Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) terrorist group’s leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan has dealt a major blow to the terrorists, but despite a US-backed scorched earth offensive the regional franchise is far from over, observers said Saturday.

Hafiz Saeed was killed in a US airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province last month, the Pentagon announced Friday, as Afghan forces mount an operation against the militants after they claimed the deadliest attack in Kabul for 15 years.

The death of Saeed, the second prominent militant to be killed in a US regional strike in recent months, is a setback to the terrorist group’s efforts to expand beyond its heartland of Syria and Iraq into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The killing of ISIS leader Hafiz Saeed in a US airstrike is a major blow to the group, which will struggle to make gains without a strong leadership,” Kabul-based political analyst Haroun Mir told AFP.

“But the ISIS threat in the region is still far from over.”

The terrorist group claimed twin bombings last month that tore through crowds of minority Shiite Hazaras protesters in Kabul, killing 80 people in the deadliest attack in the capital since 2001.

The devastating attack in the capital represented a major escalation for ISIS, which so far has largely been confined to its stronghold in Nangarhar province, where it is notorious for brutality including beheadings.

But officials denied that it marked a turning point for ISIS in Afghanistan, saying the group has been under heavy pressure from both US air strikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces.

The US military says the group’s nascent presence in Afghanistan has dwindled, with fighters largely confined to two or three districts in Nangarhar from around nine in January.

But despite the offensive, residents of Nangarhar say the group is still maintaining its reign of tyranny in the region, AFP reported.

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