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US and Afghan troops reclaim ISIS ‘capital’ in Afghanistan

A UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter flies to Forward Operating Base Torkham, March 28, 2012, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army/Flickr)
July 11, 2018

In one of the largest joint operations between U.S. and Afghan special forces, a stronghold in Afghanistan proclaimed by ISIS to be their capital has been captured.

The operation included 600 Green Berets, as well as three Afghan commando companies, according to Fox News. The mission began in April and concluded in June.

No U.S. or Afghan troops were lost in the operation, which killed 167 ISIS fighters.

This is a video of U.S. Special Operations Forces and Afghan Special Security Forces reacting to enemy fire while on patrol in support of ongoing operations against ISIS-K in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. The video is from June 1 and was produced by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler.

NATO forces commander Brig. Gen. John W. Brennan Jr. said: “This area, two months ago, was controlled by Daesh [ISIS].”

“We pushed them into the mountains, so they cannot harm the people here,” he added.

The ISIS-proclaimed capital was located in the town of Gurgoray, within the Deh Bala district in the Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border.

Troops initially established an operations base nearby the neighboring village of Gargari, where ISIS militants tried to make a regional capital. Another neighboring district, Aachin, is where the U.S. military deployed a MOAB in April 2017 to purge ISIS from the Nangarhar province.

They descended from helicopters and established outposts on ridgelines overlooking Gurgoray. ISIS militants in the valley below came under fire from the west and east, along with heavy airstrikes.

The Deh Bala area served as the main supply route for ISIS militants.

Lt. Col. Josh Thiel of the U.S. First Special Forces Group told Reuters: “This was one of the main green zones that did two things. One, it provided money, finance, logistics to ISIS, and we’ve taken that away from them.”

“Additionally, ISIS was using this as a site to prepare and move high-profile attacks on Kabul and Jalalabad,” he pointed out.

Booby traps and mines were found after the attack ceased. Forces are still working to clear the area.

Nangarhar province continues to remain a threat for NATO forces. Three American troops have been killed this year – all in battles inside the Nangarhar province.

ISIS established a presence in the Deh Bala district four years ago. Militants were reportedly funding their efforts through illegal logging and mining, as well as taking advantage of local citizens.

Afghan Local Police Commander Ghulam Sakhi said: “All the people feel very happy about the elimination of ISIS.”

“As soon as ISIS is finished, the Taliban will come back. They were scared of ISIS,” he added.

ISIS has been purged from Kot and Achin provinces, and has lost approximately half its territory. Their new stronghold has been established in Tora Bora.