MOSCOW, October 22. /TASS/. The Islamic State terrorist group has settled in 25 out of 34 Afghan provinces, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said on Thursday
"The IS keeps growing its presence in Afghanistan," Maria Zakharova said, adding that the terrorist group "has already settled in 25 out of the country’s 34 provinces." "We are concerned with the ongoing process of militants’ concentration in Afghanistan’s northern regions, near the borders with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan," she noted.
"At the same time, the Islamic State is trying to gain a foothold in neighboring Pakistan, where attempts of its emissaries are registered to carry out propaganda and recruitment activities, establish ties with other terrorist groups," Zakharova said. "We hope that our Afghan and Pakistani partners will continue taking all necessary measures to neutralize the threat coming from IS," she added.
Russian Aerospace Defense Forces started delivering targeted strikes against IS facilities on September 30. Modernized Su-24M and Su-25 fighter jets are deployed in the aviation unit of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces formed in Syria, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said. He stressed that all strikes were made after air reconnaissance and update of data obtained from the Syrian army headquarters. Aircraft armaments were not used to hit civil infrastructure facilities or areas near them.
The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announce the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US’ Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.