According to officials, the Afghan government is launching a new anti-ISIS offensive in the Nangarhar Province along the nation’s border with Pakistan. The offensive, which is being supported by the United States, is expected to continue until officials rule ISIS to have been “eliminated.”
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this is the fourth such offensive launched in Nangarhar since early 2016, all of them with the intention of outright eliminating ISIS, and all of the previous ones having determined ISIS to have been virtually wiped out in fairly short order.
So what went wrong the last three times? Officials never really say, but the sense is that the offensives into these rural areas tend to scatter the ISIS forces, who flee into the surrounding countryside, and trickle back in as soon as the military declares victory. They never lose much in any one purge, and are back up and running quickly.
In addition to Nangarhar, ISIS has pockets of forces elsewhere in the country, but in much smaller numbers. The movement is said to be recruiting in almost every province in the country, however, and has some presence in neighboring Pakistan, which allows them to flee back and forth across the border as is necessary.
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