Speaking at Regional Security Dialogue in Tehran, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that despite recent successful operation carried out by the Afghan forces, during which more than 600 militants were killed or captured, the overall number of IS members in Afghanistan is still between 2,500 and 4,000.
In eastern Afghanistan, which is near the border with Pakistan, Patrushev said that the number of IS militants there exceeds 1,500 and is on the rise.
“The IS group is focusing its efforts on consolidating presence in northern Afghanistan, where more than 2,000 militants have been concentrated, in order to counter the Taliban and establish a foothold for an incursion into the Central Asian region through Tajikistan and Turkmenistan,” Patrushev said.
“The IS group’s priority targets, according to our data, could be the facilities related to critical infrastructure, security agencies and diplomatic missions as well as foreign citizens,” he said.
The 2nd meeting of the Regional Security Dialogue kicked off in Tehran in the presence of top security officials of seven countries on Wednesday.
Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani said that terrorism, extremism and presence of foreign forces posed major threats to peace and security in the region.
Meanwhile, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that the Afghan government was fully determined to overcome terrorism and establish peace.
He said that the surrender of hundreds of IS militants in November was a testimony to “our resolve steel and the Afghan forces’ capability.
“This was an unprecedented security breakthrough as Daesh did not sustain such a crushing defeat at any corner of the world,” he said.
He said the Taliban provide space for other terrorist groups.
“We hit ETIM and Daesh harder than any time in north-eastern provinces,” Mohib said referring to Turkistan Islamic Party or Turkistan Islamic Movement. “A number of them run away to Pakistan, some were killed & some joint the Taliban. As we did in the past, today once again we enunciate our willing to extend cooperation on combating terrorists regionally.”