UN experts: 45 000 opposition fighters in Afghanistan

2016-11-05 07:26

New York — Fighters loyal to al-Qaeda have taken on a more active supporting role for the Taliban during the current offensive in Afghanistan while the position of the Islamic State extremist group in the country "has distinctly weakened," UN experts said in a report circulated on Friday.

The experts said the Afghan government and several other countries estimate that there are about 45 000 opposition fighters in Afghanistan and between 20% and 25% are foreigners.

These "bad actors ... mutually reinforced each other and presented a significant and rising terrorist challenge not only for the country but also for the international community," the experts quoted several unnamed senior officials as saying.

The Taliban have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since their own regime was ousted in a US invasion in 2001. In recent months, they have stepped up attacks across Afghanistan. The Islamic State group is a more recent addition to Afghanistan's security woes.

The experts said several countries highlighted that relations between the Taliban and al-Qaeda strengthened during the time Akhtar Mansour led the Taliban and the improved ties have continued under his successor, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Several countries told the experts that al-Qaeda fighters "acted as specialized instructors for Taliban groups, in particular as far as the design of improvised explosive devices was concerned," the report said.

The experts, who monitor sanctions against the Taliban, said in the report to the U.N. Security Council that the Islamic State group has lost territory and fighters. "However, it remains a serious challenge," they said.

At the high point of its influence in 2015, IS fighters controlled nine districts in Nangarhar Province but currently their influence has been reduced, at most, to 3 1/2 districts, the experts said.

They said the number of fighters fell as a result of Afghan military action and international air strikes.

"The group's ability to take and hold territory was also affected by clashes with Taliban fighters competing for local influence and particularly for resources, funding and manpower," they said.

The experts said several countries reported to the team that the number of Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan had dropped from an estimate of fewer than 3 500 to about 1 600, of whom 700 are foreigners.

Nonetheless, it said, the Islamic State group has maintained "an active propaganda campaign inside Afghanistan," with its key tool a mobile radio station that remains in operation despite Afghan and international efforts to target it.

As for foreign fighters, the report said the largest proportion — approximately 7 500 to 7 600 — fled Pakistan as a result of military operations and were fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban.

A second group reportedly comprises fighters from China, Russia and Central Asia from Islamic groups including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, while the third group comprises Islamic State fighters and the fourth al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the report said.

Afghan officials and others told the experts that most Taliban income comes from narcotics followed by mining, kidnap for ransom and external donations.

Read more on:    un  |  taliban  |  al-qaeda  |  isis  |  afghanistan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.