Islamic State Dealt 'Significant' Blow After Afghanistan Raids

  • Afghan airstrike also killed 34 Islamic State fighters
  • Group’s leader Hasib killed in joint Afghan, U.S. attack

An Afghan air strike that destroyed an Islamic State radio station and killed at least 34 militants added to the terrorist group’s setbacks after news that their leader in the country was killed two weeks ago.

Situated in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the station was “spreading the group’s extremist messages and issuing threats” to the locals and government workers, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Monday. 

The attack, which happened in the past 24 hours, followed news that Islamic State’s leader in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib, was killed in a joint assault by Afghan and U.S. forces on April 27. Several high-ranking leaders of the group and 35 fighters were also killed, the U.S. military said in a statement on Sunday.

Islamic State has come under increased pressure after expanding its foothold in Afghanistan. U.S. forces last month dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on the group’s caves in the same province, which Afghan authorities said killed more than 90 militants. Hasib had directed an attack in March on the country’s biggest military hospital in the capital, Kabul, which killed 50 and wounded more than 80 in one of the deadliest assaults since 2001, U.S. forces said.

Apart from sending a “significant blow to the group, the attacks will have negative repercussions -- revenge,” Atiqullah Amar Khail, an independent political analyst in Kabul said by phone.

‘Relentless Campaign’

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Afghanistan late last month for a strategic review of America’s longest war, which has dragged on for 16 years. General John W. Nicholson, commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, told reporters last month that U.S. and Afghan forces have been attacking Islamic State positions since early last year and had reduced its size by two-thirds.

“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K in 2017,” Nicholson said in a statement on Sunday, referring to an abbreviation of the group’s name in Afghanistan.

In July, former President Barack Obama said that 8,400 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan this year, reversing earlier plans to reduce the force to 5,500. That number could be increased by several thousand if U.S. President Donald Trump is persuaded by his generals to send more troops.

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