U.S. and Afghan forces killed 300 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan in a late July operation, according to the top U.S. military commander in the country.
The incredible body count comprises as much as one-third of all fighters in ISIS’ Afghan branch, known as Wilayat Khorasan (Khorasan province, or IS-K). U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson reported that the offensive operation took place in Nangarhar, a province in eastern Afghanistan.
“They killed a number of top leaders of the organization and up to 300 of their fighters,” Nicholson told reporters while meeting with Indian military officials in New Delhi Wednesday. “Obviously it’s difficult to get an exact count, but what this amounts to is about 25 percent of the organization at least, and so this represents a severe setback for them.”
Nicholson told reporters during a briefing in late July that the military estimated ISIS’ total troop strength in Afghanistan was between 1,000 to 1,500 fighters. He added that this number was half of the force ISIS had six months prior.
The operation’s results come just weeks after ISIS took responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul on July 23. The attack left more than 80 dead with at least another 231 wounded, making it the most deadly terrorist attack in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
ISIS established IS-K in Afghanistan in January 2015. While the group is not nearly as significant in the region as the Taliban or al-Qaida, it has been able to draw disgruntled members from other terrorist organizations to its ranks.
Despite ISIS’ significant loss, Nangarhar remains a dangerous battle zone for U.S. and Afghan personnel. Three U.S. soldiers were injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) attack near the city of Jalalabad Monday.
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