Afghan Forces Target Russian, Chinese Jihadis Linked to Taliban and al-Qaeda

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OORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan special forces reportedly killed or wounded 31 Taliban jihadis affiliated with al-Qaeda in eastern Afghanistan this week, including Chinese and Chechen militants.

The overwhelmingly Muslim Republic of Chechnya is an autonomous province within the Russian Federation.

China’s Muslim Uighur-majority Xinjiang province borders Afghanistan. Uighur jihadis, particularly members of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) or Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), are known to operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

The Uighur jihadi groups maintain a relationship with the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies in Afghanistan.

Citing unnamed government sources, Khaama Press (KP) noted on Friday that the Afghan special forces killed “25 Taliban militants including many Chinese and Chechen fighters.”

They reportedly injured six other terrorists during the operation.

“The [Afghan] Ministry of Defense in a statement confirmed the operation and said the security forces killed many Taliban militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda terrorist network, including 12 Chechen fighters,” KP added.

KP reported that the operation against the jihadis took place in eastern Logar province, which borders Pakistan.

It is unclear exactly when the operation took place this week, but China’s state-run Xinhua news outlet indicated that it occurred around Tuesday.

U.S. military troops, who are backing the Afghan forces, have also targeted the Taliban-linked Uighur jihadis in recent years. Early last year, Gandhara reported that Taliban and Chinese Uighur jihadists are expanding their presence in northern Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province. The province borders Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China.

Pentagon officials have accused Russia, Iran, and Pakistan of backing the Taliban.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is currently engaged in Russia and China-backed peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Negotiators are finalizing the details of an agreement to pull foreign forces out in exchange for Taliban promises to prevent al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) from operating in Afghanistan.

ISIS and the Taliban are rivals. However, the United Nations recently reported that the Taliban and al-Qaeda continue to work together in Afghanistan.

Taliban jihadis have rejected U.S. proposals to leave behind a residual force to ensure the terrorist group keeps its promises.

The Trump administration has made the political reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government the primary goal of its strategy to end the war. Nevertheless, the Taliban continues to refuse to engage in talks with Kabul, claiming it will only do so after the full withdrawal of foreign forces.

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