Islamic State claims it killed US soldier in Afghanistan


The Islamic State’s Khorasan province claimed it killed a US soldier and three Afghan troops in an IED attack that took place in the contested district of Achin in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Despite multiple efforts to eject the group from Nangarhar, Achin remains a haven for the Islamic State.

Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State, claimed that it eliminated the US and Afghan soldiers in a brief statement that was published on its website (see above).

US Forces-Afghanistan announced yesterday that a soldier was killed in an IED attack in Achin:

One U.S. service member died as a result of wounds sustained during operations in Achin district, Nangarhar Province today…

The service member was killed conducting operations with Afghan forces when the patrol triggered an Improvised Explosive Device. The mission was conducted as part of a larger United States-Afghan counter terrorism mission targeting the Islamic State, Khorasan. An investigation is being conducted to determine the exact circumstances of the event.

US forces have been active in hunting the Islamic State in Nangarhar, and have taken casualties during operations there in the past. The US killed Hafiz Saeed Khan, the Islamic State’s emir for Khorasan province, in an airstrike in Achin district in late July. Other senior Islamic State leaders have been neutralized in US strikes in Nangarhar. Last week, the US is thought to have killed civilians in an airstrike in Achin that targeted the Islamic State.

In a Sept. 23 Pentagon press briefing, General John Nicholson, the commander of US Forces-Afghanistan and the Resolute Support mission, said that the Islamic State largely confined to Nangarhar:

They are primarily in Nangarhar. We estimate their numbers are 1,200 to 1,300 fighters. They’re primarily Pakistani Pashtun from the Agoricsi Agency [Arakazai tribal agency in Pakistan], who were previously part of — (inaudible) — Taliban Pakistan, TTP, who then changed alliance to ISK. They were joined by some fighters from Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, who joined them as well.

They have some enclaves in Kunar Province but primarily they’re in Nangarhar Province. Their goal was to establish their caliphate the Khorasan Province, with Jalalabad as the capital and Nangarhar as their initial caliphate. Now they’ve been frustrated in that by us and the operations in July have pushed them down into the mountains of southern Nangarhar. And it’s primarily in three to four districts. As you know, Courtney, there was a time when they had spread out to nine to ten districts last year in 2015.

So the operations this year have helped to push them down. And we will continue these operations into the future.

The Islamic State has been under siege in Nangarhar for well over a year. In addition to being targeted by US and Afghan forces, the Taliban has battled the group for control of Nangarhar ever since the Islamic State declared war on it.

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

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