This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Dozens of Islamic State (IS) fighters have surrendered to Afghan forces, amid intense fighting between followers of the extremist group and the Taliban in the northern province of Jawzjan, an official says.
Provincial police chief Faqeer Mohammad Jawzjani told RFE/RL on August 1 that at least 200 militants had surrendered in Darzab district since late on July 31.
Jawzjani said the main IS stronghold in northern Afghanistan was now under the control of the Taliban, which has been fighting its rival group there for a month.
“The evil phenomenon of Daesh has completely been eliminated and people have been freed from its tortures in Jawzjan Province,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group.
There were no immediate comments from IS.
Mohammad Ismail, head of police in Darzab district, confirmed that groups of IS militants were turning themselves over to Afghan security forces amid ongoing clashes.
Other officials said a senior IS commander in northern Afghanistan, identified as Mawlawi Habiburrahman, was among the militants who surrendered.
Jawzjan Province’s police deputy chief, Abdul Hafeez Khashi, said that fighting between the two rival groups broke out in the area late on July 31 and was still under way.
Eight Taliban militants and six IS fighters were killed in the battle, Khashi told Pajhwok news agency.
There have been no immediate comments from the Taliban or the IS group.
Last month, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, expressed concern about the IS presence in the country.
“We are going fully at ISIS. And we also note that the Taliban is fighting ISIS, and we encourage that because ISIS needs to be destroyed,” Nicholson told reporterson July 23, using another acronym for the extremist group.
“There is no place for them in the future of Afghanistan,” he added.
The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban, IS, and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.
On July 31, at least 15 people were killed in the eastern city of Jalalabad when gunmen stormed a government building, officials said.
A 22-year-old female employee of the International Organization for Migration was among those killed, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
In the western province of Farah’s Bala Baluk district, 11 people were reported killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the two attacks.