Russia has estimated there are about 10,000 ISIS militants in Afghanistan and their number is growing because militants fleeing Syria and Iraq also are heading to the war-ravaged country.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Russian media on Saturday quoted Zamir Kabulov, Russia's special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, as saying Moscow is particularly worried about an increasing foothold of ISIS militants in northern Afghan provinces bordering Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
"Russia was among the first to be sounding the alarms in connection with the emergence of Daesh(ISIS) in Afghanistan.... Daesh has significantly increased its power in the country recently. According to our estimates, the number of militants exceeds 10,000 and continues to grow, particularly due to new fighters arriving from Syria and Iraq," Kabulov told the Sputnik news agency.
The Russian envoy alleged helicopters “without identifying insignia” are transferring terrorists and delivering “Western [military] equipment” to the Afghan branch of the terrorist group.
He added that Moscow repeatedly has raised the issue with the United Nations and NATO, but has not yet received “a clear response” from them.
Kabulov says the situation in the Afghan provinces of Jowzjan and Sar-e-Pol are of particular concern because locals also have spotted Algerian and French militants in the ISIS ranks. He went on to assert that the terrorist group aims to extend its influence to Russia’s southern regions and its partner nations in Central Asia.
"We are regularly asking our NATO partners, who are in fact controlling the airspace over Afghanistan, about this issue, but we have not heard any reasonable answer yet," Kabulov insisted.
ISIS began its extremists operations in eastern Afghanistan in early 2015, and at its peak had roughly 3,000 militants, according to U.S. military estimates.