- About 200 to 250 ISIS fighters turned themselves into the Afghan government on Wednesday after a fierce two-day battle against the Taliban in the northern province of Jawzjan.
- Eight Taliban and six ISIS fighters were also killed in the battle, and 128 ISIS fighters surrendered to the Taliban as well.
- The surrender signals ISIS’ defeat in northern Afghanistan, largely leaving only their stronghold in the southern province of Nangarhar.
About 200 to 250 ISIS fighters turned themselves into the Afghan government on Wednesday after a fierce two-day battle against the Taliban in the northern province of Jawzjan, according to The New York Times.
“The evil phenomenon of Daesh has completely been eliminated and people have been freed from its tortures in Jawzjan province of Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using an Arabic term for the group.
Eight Taliban and six ISIS fighters were also killed in the battle, Abdul Hafeez Khashi, Jawzjan Province’s deputy police chief, told RFERL, and 128 ISIS fighters surrendered to the Taliban as well, Mujahid told the New York Times.
“It was a dark night, a pell-mell situation,” Mufti Nemat, one of ISIS’ two top commanders who surrendered, told the New York Times by phone. “For two to three nights, we have been unable to sleep; we are very exhausted.”
The Taliban launched an offensive several weeks ago in Jawzjan against ISIS, which they oppose as much as they do the Western-backed government in Kabul and which has established an unmatched reputation for brutality.
“After the surrender of more than 200 Daeshis in Darzab District last night, the Daeshis have been wiped out of the north,” Maj. Ahmad Jawid Salim, a spokesman for the Afghan Army Commandos, said on Facebook.
While ISIS had a foothold in the north, namely Jawzjan Province, their main stronghold is still in the southern province of Nangarhar.
US officials say there are about 2,000 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, according to Stars and Stripes.
Last month, General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, welcomed the fact that the Taliban were fighting Islamic State, which he said had to be destroyed.
“We are going fully at ISIS. And we also note that the Taliban is fighting ISIS, and we encourage that because ISIS needs to be destroyed,” Nicholson saidin late July.
US forces have launched air strikes against ISIS in Jawzjan in recent months, but the Taliban has rejected any suggestion of cooperation and accused the United States of trying to obstruct them.
But the US and Taliban have also recently made strides in peacetalks, with the State Department’s Alice Wells and Taliban representatives meeting last week to discuss a possible ceasefire, which reportedly went well.
At the same time, 1,692 civilians have been killed through June 30, according to the UN, the highest in any six month period since 2009.