Militants belonging to the ISIL (Daesh) group, operating mainly in Iraq and Syria, are now said to be training Taliban militants in a northern province of Afghanistan.
The ISIL militants are “supporting the Taliban, training the Taliban, trying to build the capacity of the Taliban for a bigger fight,” the governor of the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, Mohammed Omar Safi, said on Friday.
Safi added that Afghanistan has been witnessing a massive influx of foreign militants from a host of countries including Pakistan and Tajikistan as well as the Chechnya in North Caucasus.
Hundreds of Taliban militants launched armed attacks against Afghan army positions in Kunduz late last month, marking the beginning of their so-called spring offensive.
Provincial police spokesman, Sayed Sarwar Hosseini, announced that over 3,000 Afghan families have fled raging battles between Taliban militants and government troops in the province.
He added that Afghanistan’s central government had to dispatch reinforcements to the province.
Abdul Wadood Wahidi, the spokesman for the governor of Kunduz said that “in the worst-affected Imam Sahib district,” the ISIL Takfiris “are training and supporting local Taliban fighters to raise their capacity… in their fight against the Afghan government.”
Fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants has intensified since the militants launched their annual spring offensive against Afghan forces and foreign embassies on April 24.
Afghan Interior Minister Noorul Haq Ulumi and the deputy to Defense Ministry spokesman, Brigadier General Dawlat Waziri, have dismissed the Taliban spring offensive, saying the country’s security forces are capable of foiling militant attacks.
Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still witnessing increasing violence.
At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission, which came on December 31, 2014. The forces, mainly from the US, are there for what Washington calls a support mission. NATO says they will focus mainly on counter terrorism operations and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.