Taliban Claims to Conduct Operation Against ISIS in Mazar-i-Sharif


The latest: In a swift operation, across districts 5,6 and 8 of Mazar-i-Sharif city in Balkh province, the Taliban forces on Friday night conducted raids and engaged in heavy gun battle through civilian areas in order to curb down on apparent ISIS agents. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, said that the group’s forces targeted ISIS hideouts.


Go deeper:

  • Mujahid called the operation a “scathing” and said that a number of ISIS members had been killed and their ammunition had fallen into the hands of Taliban fighters.
  • A Taliban member had also been wounded in the operation, he said. However, the exact number of casualties during the operation has not been revealed yet.
  • Earlier on Friday night, local sources in Mazar-e-Sharif city had reported clashes in Dasht-e-Shor area of the city.
  • The Taliban operation comes as Mazar-i-Sharif has been on the receiving end of several attacks by ISIS in recent weeks. In one of the attacks, Taliban governor Mohammad Daoud Muzammil was killed in Balkh and another attack targeted a gathering of journalists, in which three people were killed and several others wounded.


Why it matters? The Taliban’s operations in civilian areas have been controversial in the past.

  • A week ago, the group announced killing seven young men on charges of rebellion and kidnapping in Mazar-e-Sharif city and displayed their bodies to the public. However, the families of these dead men said that they were innocent and were workers who had visited Mazar-e-Sharif for employment purposes.
  • These families staged a protest in front of the United Nations offices in Kabul to seek justice for their dead men by the Taliban, but the group prevented the protest.
  • The families of the victims of Friday’s massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif on March 9 have called for justice, compensation and restitution.
  • However, the Taliban did not respond to the families’ claims.


Back story: Earlier too, the Taliban had stated that they had managed to kill the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISKP) intel chief and urban attack planner, Qari Fateh, in Kabul during their operations a month ago.

  • Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that their security forces killed two key Islamic State commanders in an overnight counterterrorism raid against their hideout in the capital, Kabul. Taliban officials posted footage on Twitter of two bodies lying in debris.
  • Then in February, the Taliban had also claimed to have killed the IS-K chief for the Indian subcontinent, Ijaz Amin Ahangar, along with his two commanders. IS-K confirmed the death of Ahangar, also known as Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, saying in a statement he was killed in a clash with the Taliban on February 14 but did not mention the exact location.


Zoom out: Even though the Taliban has denied the presence of any terrorist group on its soil time and again, the group continues to conduct such brutal gun battles in civilian areas claiming to target Daesh hideouts.

  • Over the past few months, the Taliban has reported numerous clashes with ISIS members in different provinces of Afghanistan as Daesh has routinely launched high-profile attacks targeting civilians, Taliban members and foreign diplomatic missions in the country.
  • The U.S. State Department 2021 country reports on terrorism noted that IS and other regionally focused terror groups maintained “an active presence” and conducted terrorist activities in Afghanistan. “ISIS-K remained a resilient enemy with roughly 2,000 to 3,000 fighters in the country, although precise estimates are hard to determine,” the report said. “Although the Taliban committed to preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan to stage attacks against the United States or others, the extent of its ability and willingness to prevent AQ [al-Qaeda] and ISIS-K from mounting external operations remained unclear,” it added.
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