Speaking to state media outlet Voice of America, Capt. Bill Salvin, the head of public affairs for the US war in Afghanistan, announced today that the US is escalating their fight against ISIS in Afghanistan, and is determined to defeat the group in 2017.
The ISIS faction in Afghanistan is actively recruiting nationwide, but primarily holds territory in the eastern Nangarhar Province. The Pentagon was long loathe to admit the faction was even operational, but came around on that last year, with the first offensives against the group by the Afghan government.
“Defeating” ISIS in a meaningful matter in the country has proven difficult, however, with Afghanistan having claimed “total victory” and to have outright routed ISIS at least twice in 2016, only for the group to fairly quickly reemerge in the same areas they were expelled from after the offensive ends.
ISIS’ presence in Afghanistan, even in territory they nominally control, is always somewhat tentative, with the group seemingly always ready to relocate at the first sign of a serious offensive against them. This has allowed them to mostly escape the offensives, and despite gaudy numbers claimed killed by the Afghan government, to keep coming back more or less intact.