Dramatic new video released by the US military on Tuesday reveals rare footage of American special operators and Afghan Special Security Forces conducting a nighttime raid targeting ISIS-affiliated fighters in Afghanistan — footage that the Pentagon said documents the latest in a string of successful operations against ISIS-Khorasan this month.
The first-person, night-vision footage was captured during a raid that “killed an ISIS-K commander and another terrorist fighter” in Afghanistan’s Jowzjan province on March 26 and 27, according to the Pentagon.
“This tactical defeat of ISIS-K fighters in Jowzjan is the most recent in a series of Afghan and US (special operations forces) counterterrorism successes targeting ISIS-K in northern Afghanistan this year,” a statement from the Department of Defense said.
Many of the operations targeting ISIS in northern Afghanistan were focused on eliminating the organization’s ability to bring in foreign fighters, a hallmark of the terror group’s activities in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon noted that US and Afghan forces killed four ISIS-K fighters in the Darzab district on March 22 and said a US aircraft successfully targeted two ISIS-K commanders tasked with the facilitation of foreign fighters in an airstrike in Sar-e Pul province on March 16.
Afghan forces also captured Khitab Aka, ISIS-K’s head facilitator of foreign fighters in Jowzjan, on January 28, according to the statement.
ISIS-K has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Afghanistan, carrying out several mass casualty suicide bombings in the capital, Kabul, and US and Afghan military commanders are seeking to ensure the terror group is not able to bring in new foreign recruits to bolster its ranks.
“These IS-K fighters are primarily Pakistani Pashtun,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander, US Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement.
“They have another segment of Islamic Movement Uzbekistan. And then there’s probably ten per cent that’s from a variety of sources around the world,” he added.
Bolstering the number of elite Afghan units like the Afghan Special Security Forces is a central tenet of the Afghan government’s strategy for defeating ISIS and the Taliban, and NATO hopes to help the government double the number of Afghan commandos in the coming years.
Afghan and US forces launched a counter ISIS-K offensive in early March 2017, but while it managed to recapture nearly all of the organization’s territory, the offensive failed to fulfill Nicholson’s pledge to drive the terror group out of Afghanistan by the end of last year.
Over the last two months, ASSF and US targeting of ISIS-K resulted in the removal of more than 140 ISIS-K fighters, according to the US military.
US special operations forces have been directly engaged in the offensive against ISIS in Afghanistan, conducting raids and strikes in the country’s eastern provinces.
Last April, the US military dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on what it said were ISIS positions in Afghanistan, describing it as a tactical move. Afghan officials said the strike in Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed 36 ISIS fighters.