Earlier today the Islamic State released a photo-set from recent clashes with the Taliban in Afghanistan’s northern Jowzjan province. Scores of jihadists have been killed on both sides in the past two weeks.
The photos mainly show Islamic State snipers targeting Taliban positions in Jowzjan, however, others also show mortars being fired at the same positions. The short photo series is the first to be released of battles with the Taliban since renewed fighting began this week. Photos of earlier strikes in Jowzjan have previously been released.
Like other rounds of conflict with the Islamic State, the Taliban has not publicly commented on the offensives.
Fighting renewed between the jihadist groups earlier this month after Islamic State militants stormed Taliban positions in Darzab, a hotly contested district which is no stranger to battle among these groups. After capturing a Taliban-held town, the Islamic State then beheaded 10 captured Taliban members. As a result, the Taliban targeted Islamic State positions in Darzab and Qush Tepa, as well as another contested district in Jawzjan on July 12.
Then on July 16, at least six Taliban fighters and four from the Islamic State were reportedly killed in clashes in Darzab. On the 17th, another skirmish between the two left a further 15 jihadists dead in the Sayyad district of Sar-i-Pul.
The Islamic State also captured a Taliban commander, Mullah Burjan, and subsequently beheaded him after another strike in Darzab also on the 17th. Afghan officials have reported that after the beheading, increased Taliban skirmishes with Islamic State-loyal militants have occurred in Darzab. The same officials have said at least 250 jihadists have been killed in the fighting, however, the accuracy of this estimate is questionable. [For more background on the clashes between the jihadist groups in Jowzjan, see FDD’s Long War Journal report, “Taliban, Islamic State continue battle in northern Afghanistan.”]
The ongoing fighting between the Islamic State and the Taliban in Jawzjan and Sar-i-pul has hampered the Taliban’s campaign in the northern provinces, as it has forced it to divert forces to deal with the upstart jihadist group. Additionally, the Islamic State’s ability to mass and occasionally control territory threatens the Taliban’s narrative that it is the only legitimate opposition to the Afghan government.
New photos released by the Islamic State:
Previous photos of clashes with the Taliban in Jowzjan released by the Islamic State earlier this month: