TEHRAN, December 18. /TASS/. The situation continues deteriorating in Afghanistan where the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) has been establishing its foothold, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday.
"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 told a Tehran meeting of Security Council’s secretaries and national security advisers devoted to Afghanistan.
The militants’ ultimate goal is to create the so-called Greater Khorasan to incorporate the territories of Afghanistan and Central Asian states, he stated. "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," the Russian security chief claimed.
According to various estimates, some 2,500 to 4,000 IS militants are currently based in Afghanistan. "Despite a recent successful operation carried out by the government forces, during which more than 600 militants were destroyed or captured, the overall number of IS members in Afghanistan is still between 2,500 and 4,000," he said.
The IS terrorists’ stronghold is in the country’s eastern provinces, Patrushev noted. "The number of terrorists there exceeds 1,500 and is on the rise, also due to Jihadists who are arriving from Syria and Iraq primarily through Pakistan," he commented.