General John Nicholson also revealed that despite American forces fighting terrorists in the region for over a decade, there are still about a dozen local and international terrorist groups operating in the country.
Nicholson told journalists in Pentagon that the majority of the members of Daesh Khorasan province are from the TTP – also called Pakistani Taliban – who joined the Daesh affiliate after they were driven out of the country following Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operation, called Zarb-i-Azb.
Nicholson said about 70% of the current league of Daesh fighters in Nangarhar province, where almost 10 districts were under Daesh control in December 2015, are former TTP fighters. The new Daesh recruits include both TTP fighters as well as their leaders, who joined the international terrorist group in huge numbers.
Most of these militants belong to Pakistan’s Orakzai tribal agency and joined the international terror group earlier this year, after being radicalised by its leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US commander said.
The US commander said American air strikes targeting the Daesh fighters have forced them out of some areas and that US troops were now working with Afghan security forces to reclaim significant parts of the territory from Daesh.
“Daesh fighters are retreating south into the mountains of southern Nangarhar. We will continue to stay after Daesh until they are defeated here in Afghanistan,” Nicholson said during the media briefing.