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Over 615 ISIS members surrendered in Afghanistan in two weeks

More than 615 members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have surrendered to the government forces in Afghanistan in the past two weeks due to a ramp-up in the army’s anti-terror operations in the Asian country, the Afghan military says.

According to a statement by Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry on Saturday, carried by the country’s Tolo News television channel, the total number of Daesh members who surrendered to Afghan government forces during the past two weeks had been “over 615.”

It also attributed the recent mass surrenders to increased counter-terrorism operations by security forces against “terrorists”, particularly in the eastern Nangarhar province, which has been a key hotbed for the terror outfit during the past few years.

The ministry said that 18 Daesh members, accompanied by 24 women and 31 children, surrendered to Afghan security forces on Friday, a day after another 82 members of the terrorist group gave themselves up to the Afghan authorities in the Achin district of Nangarhar, along with 51 women and 96 children. 

According to Commander Waliullah, the Army Special Forces commander in Achin district, “at least 300” Daesh members, including women and children, also surrendered to Afghan forces in the volatile province on Wednesday.

Tolo news also said that interviews with the surrendered members had revealed that these terrorists had come from a variety of countries, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

On November 10, acting Interior Minister, Massoud Andarabi, announced that Daesh militants “were defeated and their centers were destroyed” in the troubled province, stressing that the terror group was “completely defeated” in various parts of the war-ravaged country.

“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,” the minister added at the time.

Using the vacuum left by the lack of an effective central power in Afghanistan, Daesh militants first burst into the country’s conflict in 2015, when they overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistani border, and began launching terror attacks against government forces and civilians alike.

Daesh unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq and Syria in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. However, it gradually lost its strongholds in both countries in the following years.

The terror group, which has been crushingly defeated and lost all of its urban bastions in both Syria and Iraq, sought to expand and root its foothold in Afghanistan.

However, the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was allegedly killed in a US raid in northern Syria last month, seems to have severely damaged the terrorists’ morale in Afghanistan in recent weeks.     

During their active presence in the Asian country, Daesh terrorists also entered into sporadic clashes with a powerful rival there, the Taliban militant group, which currently controls or has influence in about half of Afghanistan’s territory.

Daesh has also been trying to recruit new members from the Taliban, which for its part has been launching deadly attacks both on security forces and civilians for the past nearly two decades.

The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end following the US invasion in 2001, but 18 years on, Washington is seeking a truce with the militants.

The Taliban group has so far rejected the proposal to lay down arms and instead called on the US to end the use of force in Afghanistan. It also insists that talks cannot move ahead until foreign forces leave the country.

Nearly 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of a mission to purportedly train, assist, and advise Afghan security forces.