The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) wing in Afghanistan has allegedly released a grim video purportedly showing two indoctrinated boys, commonly known as “cubs of the caliphate,” shooting prisoners in the head execution-style.
Known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), the branch in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region has been around since January 2015.
The U.S.-NATO-led coalition and their Afghan allies have since been combating the group, primarily in their stronghold in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, located along the Pakistan border.
In the video, disseminated online by the group’s followers and sympathizers but taken down from YouTube, ISIS-K features the execution of a total of five prisoners in orange jumpsuits accused of espionage.
The children, who appear to be less than ten years of age, shoot two of the detainees in the head.
According to a recent assessment by the Pentagon, the U.S. military and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which includes police and army units, have significantly degraded ISIS-K.
“The latest video by ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan has been released days after the terror group received unprecedented setbacks on the battlefield, losing several key commanders, leaders, and fighters,” reports Khaama Press (KP).
Facing significant losses in Iraq and Syria, ISIS-K is trying to establish a “caliphate” on Afghan soil, warned U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, back in October 2016.
Soon after U.S. President Donald Trump took office this year, Gen. Nicholson authorized the American military to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on a network of underground tunnels used by ISIS-K.
Afghan officials said the 21,600 pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), known as the “mother of all bombs,” killed more than 90 jihadists, reducing the number of ISIS-K fighters to about 700.
ISIS-K peaked at about 3,000 fighters. Nevertheless, U.S. troops and their Afghan counterparts have depleted the group.
The Pentagon reported this month:
ISIS-K has regressed since its operational emergence and initial growth in 2015. Several factors have disrupted ISIS-K’s growth and diminished its operational capacity, including U.S. counterterrorism operations against the group, ANDSF operations, pressure from the Taliban, and difficulties in gaining local populace support. During the last reporting period, ISIS-K had a limited presence in six provinces; however, it is now largely confined to four districts in southern Nangarhar Province.
Taliban jihadists consider their ISIS-K counterparts to be their enemy.
Under the former U.S. president, the Taliban seized more territory than during any other time since the American military removed the group from power in 2001.
As a result, Afghan security forces and civilians have suffered a record number of casualties.
The Taliban controls or contests about 35 percent of Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently acknowledged America is “not winning” the 16-year-old war, adding, “We will correct this as soon as possible.”