Taliban, Islamic State clash in eastern Afghanistan

The Taliban confirmed their clash with the Islamic State in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika earlier this week, and several of its fighters were killed as US aircraft (said to be “drones”) entered the fray.

According to a statement released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda website, the fighting took place in Paktika’s Gomal district:

Officials reporting from Gomal district say that Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate came under simultaneous attack by a notorious Arbaki commander named Amanullah and another group of armed men affiliating themselves with Daesh [Islamic State] headed by a commander named Obaidullah Honar.

US drones targeted Mujahideen multiple times during the clashes from which five Mujahideen were martyred once and eight others a second time, surely to Allah we belong and to Him is the return.

Reports say that commander Honar was himself killed during the fighting in Warhmami area and the fighting came to an end with Mujahideen clearing and taking control of many areas from the enemy.

It is said that American aircraft are still conducting flights over the region.

Afghan officials and local residents in Gomal told Afghan news agencies that the fighting lasted for three days, and more than 80 jihadists from both groups were killed. According to Khaama Press, the “the clashes erupted when the Taliban opposed Daesh commanders who were planning to open offices in the area.”

Gomal is a known haven for several Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, as well as al Qaeda. The US has conducted several airstrikes in Gomal over the past year. Most recently, on Feb. 2, the US targeted a meeting that was said to have been attended by Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan commander Sajna Mehsud; 18 fighters are said to have been killed. Additionally, Afghan intelligence said it killed an al Qaeda commander known as as “Khuram” in Gomal on Sept. 14, 2015.

The Taliban and al Qaeda have a vested interest in halting the spread of the Islamic State in Gomal and Paktika in general, given the province’s importance to the group.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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