|The ISIS Abu Bakr al Siddiq Battalion|
ISIS May Capture Tora Bora
KABUL, Afghanistan (Washington Post) — Islamic State fighters captured some territory around Tora Bora, the former stronghold of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, officials said Wednesday.
The push and capture of the giant cave complex that once housed the late al-Qaida chief would be a major scoop for the Islamic State group in its increasingly deadly rivalry with the Afghan Taliban. The caves had until now been under Taliban control.
Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman in Nangarhar, said IS attacks in the mountain range began late on Tuesday night. Clashes continued into the day, with IS militants battling the Taliban and some local villagers in the area.
By Wednesday, the Islamic State group had managed to seize some territory around Tora Bora — but not the bin Laden hideout itself, Khogyani said, adding that there were unspecified casualties on both sides.
|ISIS Training Camp in Pakistan-Afghanistan|
“I can confirm that the IS fighters occupied some areas around Tora Bora, but not Tora Bora itself,” said Khogyani, referring to the cave complex from where bin Laden and hundreds of other al-Qaida members escaped a massive U.S. bombing campaign in December 2001.
There has been no comment from IS or the Taliban so far.
However, Hazrat Ali, a lawmaker from Nangarhar confirmed that at least 12 Taliban fighters were killed in the battle with IS in Tora Bora. “Based on our information from local people, hundreds of IS fighters attacked Taliban militants in Tora Bora,” said Ali.
He added that the Tora Bora mountain range, with the huge caves that once hid bin Laden, is strategically a very important location for the Islamic State group, giving it a remote and difficult to access location from where to launch attacks on both the Afghan government forces as well as the Taliban.
Shirin Agha Faqiri, a spokesman for the army crops in eastern Nangarhar, said IS fighters have captured much of the Tora Bora mountains, and even positioned some of their heavy artillery on the mountain peaks there.
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