Taliban Security Forces Kills IS Militants in Kabul

Taliban security forces conducted an overnight raid in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing two militants from the Islamic State group and detaining a third, according to a statement from the spokesman for the Taliban government on Monday. The regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, has emerged as a key rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The group has increased its attacks since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, targeting Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.

Taliban security forces conducted operation was carried out in a residential neighborhood of Kabul and was aimed at IS militants who were planning to organize attacks in the Afghan capital. The Kher Khana neighborhood, where the operation took place, is an important IS hideout, said Zabihullah Mujahid, the main Taliban government spokesman.

Mujahid said that two IS members were killed, one was arrested, and ammunition and military equipment were seized in the raid. There were no casualties among the Taliban forces during the operation. This is the second raid in the past month in which the Taliban has targeted IS militants. In a separate operation earlier this month, Taliban intelligence forces killed three IS militants and arrested one in an overnight operation in the eastern part of Kabul, in the Karti Naw neighborhood. The Taliban claimed that IS was behind recent attacks in the capital.

The Taliban’s efforts to combat the Islamic State group come as the group seeks to consolidate its control over Afghanistan following its takeover of the country in August 2021. The Taliban swept across the country as U.S. and NATO forces were in the last weeks of their final withdrawal after 20 years of war. The international community has not recognized the Taliban government, wary of the harsh measures they have imposed since their takeover, restricting rights and freedoms, especially for women and minorities.

Afghanistan’s economy has been sent into a tailspin since the Taliban takeover, with millions driven into poverty and hunger. Foreign aid stopped almost overnight. Sanctions on Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers, and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s currency reserves abroad have already restricted access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the country’s aid-dependent economy before the U.S. and NATO pullout.

In neighboring Iran on Sunday, authorities handed over control of Afghanistan’s Embassy in Tehran to envoys of the Taliban government. Previously, the embassy was staffed by the U.S.-backed Afghan government envoys. The development was a win for the Taliban administration, which is expected to now fly the Taliban flag over the mission in the Iranian capital, not the Afghan flag.

There was no official comment from Tehran on the transfer of authority, and it was unclear if that constituted an official recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their administration. In Kabul, the Taliban Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that embassy “activities will continue in Tehran following the dispatching” of a new chargé d’affaires and diplomats from Afghanistan. The statement further stressed that changing mission diplomats abroad is the legitimate right of every country.

Zia Ahmad, a Taliban-appointed deputy spokesman at the foreign ministry, said on Monday that Fazel Mohammad Haqqani was named the new chargé d’affaires in Iran. The spokesman described the new envoy as an “experienced” diplomat. Ahmad said a seven-member team was sent to Tehran with Haqqani to provide services to Afghans in Iran.

The transfer of control of Afghanistan’s Embassy in Tehran to envoys of the Taliban government comes amid concerns about the Taliban’s relationship with Iran. The Taliban have long had ties with Iran, and Tehran has provided the group with support in the past. However, the Taliban’s Sunni Islamist ideology is at odds with Iran’s Shiite Muslim government, and the two countries