From The Hill, on Thursday it was announced that five U.S. special operators were recently wounded in clearing operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The injuries occured when U.S. special operators were conducting partnered operations with Afghan special operators. The operations took place in the southern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar and were considered a “clearing operation”, said Army Gen. John Nicholson.
The injuries were sustained during operations conducted in the last few days and were from small arms fire and shrapnel and not life-threatening. Two of the operators returned to their units and the other three were evacuated from Afghanistan, General Nicholson said. All soldiers are expected to make a full recovery. In an official statment he stated,
“They are in good spirits and have talked to their families, we expect a full recovery.“
He estimated there are approximately 1,000 to 1,500 members of ISIS in Afghanistan. The number recently reach as has as 3,000 but has dropped significantly. The drop in the number of members has caused ISIS to lose territory in Nangarhar, its primary stronghold. ISIS members are mostly in the provinces of Nangahar and Kunar, Nicholson said and added,
“We have killed many [ISIS] commanders and soldiers, destroyed key infrastructure, capabilities, and logistical nodes. Fighters are retreating south into the mountains of southern Nangarhar as we speak.”
The U.S. and Afghan forces were moving south to clear ISIS from the province, Nicholson said and many ISIS fighters in Afghanistan were members of other groups that he’s seeing a “convergence” between the different terrorist groups in the country. Those converging terrorist groups include Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), which is ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Nicholson said an overwhelming majority of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan have converged with other groups after they were forced out of Pakistan by its highly-successful counterterrorism operations. He states that at least 70 percent are former members of the TTP in roles ranging from foot soldier to top-brass leadership.