AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: A Special Representative to Russian President on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov has claimed that more than 10,000 Daesh fighters have been operating in Afghanistan and most of them fled Syria and Iraq this year.
In an interview with Russia’s news agency RIA Novositi, the Russian envoy said Moscow believes the US might be underestimating their (Daesh) threat to Afghanistan and that more could be coming in.
He said a large number of these militants who ended up in Afghanistan were forced out of their home base in Syria and Iraq this year as a result of separate military operations conducted by US-led coalition, and the Syrian Army backed by Russian forces.
“Russia was among the first nations to ring alarm about the expansion of IS (Daesh) into Afghanistan,” he told RIA Novosti.
“Lately IS has boosted its presence in the country. Our estimate is that their force there is stronger than 10,000 troops and is continuing to grow. That includes new fighters with combat experience received in Syria and Iraq.”
Moreover, he added Daesh fighters have strongest presence in the north of Afghanistan on the border with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan which is a point of great concern and unrest for Russia as Moscow has close historic relations and partnership with the mentioned countries.
“IS goals are definitely to expand its influence outside of Afghanistan, which they use as a staging ground. This poses a significant security threat for Central Asia and southern parts of Russia,” Kabulov predicted.
Kabulov disclosed that Moscow and Washington have differences in opinions on how big a threat Daesh has posed to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.
He further went on saying that the Washington has been engaged in fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, adding the US was also in the process of alienating other countries in the region by criticizing them for failing to start required crackdown against Taliban – while overlooking its own failures.
“Considering the realities on the ground, which is that the Taliban controls half of the country, one can ask the question: does the US pull its weight? Russia stands for cooperation with international partners based on equality and which takes into account national interests of all nations of the region,” Kabulov noted.
This comes at a time when the US has repeatedly criticized and threatened Pakistan for harboring terrorist outfits, including the notorious Haqqani network on its soil.
On the other hand, Russian has also offered its cooperation to Washington was to work together to foster stability in Afghanistan. Commenting into the issue, Kabulov said it was America’s decision to stop such cooperation, not Russia’s. In April, Moscow invited the US to take part in Russia-hosted Afghanistan peace talks, but US authorities declined Russian invitation.