Afghan government forces have been using the rivalry between Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the Taliban to push the latter’s forces back from the territories under their control. But several months ago the conflict died out as the two terrorist groups seemed to have reached a shaky truce, Afghan officials say.
“They [IS] fought deadly battles with the Taliban before. But over the past two months, there has been no fighting among them,” the Wall Street Journal cites Mohammad Zaman Waziri, who commands Afghan troops in the east of the country, as saying.
The truce enabled Islamic State to regroup and concentrate on engaging Afghan forces in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, which used to be an Al-Qaeda stronghold, media report.
Infiltration of Islamic State emissaries into Afghanistan began last year. Apart from spreading the group’s influence into new territories, IS has pursued a policy of gaining control of heroin production in Afghanistan and trafficking it via territories controlled by the terrorists.
After the Russian task force in Syria launched a vast air campaign against IS targets and struck a heavy blow to its oil infrastructure, officials say that the issue of controlling heroin routes became even more important for the terrorist group. According to the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), terrorists have been making $1 billion a year from Afghan heroin.