US general says 5 US troops wounded in Afghan fighting

The top USA commander in Afghanistan says five American soldiers have been wounded in clashes with Islamic State fighters.

Nicholson told reporters during a press briefing, "None of these are life-threatening injuries".

"We will continue to stay after Daesh until they are defeated here in Afghanistan", Nicholson said, using an Arabic acronym for the militant group.

"They have applied for membership, they have been accepted, they had to meet certain tests, they have been publicized in Dabiq", the IS magazine, he said.

The troops came under fire during what Nicholson called "clearing operations" as US and Afghan troops pushed into southern Nangahar following a series of airstrikes. The bombing was aimed at a protest by ethnic Hazaras demanding a major regional power line be rerouted through their areas outside of the capital.

More than 200 people were wounded in the worst attack in Kabul since the Taliban's insurgency began in 2001.

Until recently, Afghan and USA officials have insisted that IS loyalists were disaffected Taliban tired that their own fight had failed to make headway, after 15 years, in its goal of overthrowing the Kabul government.

The attempts by the loyalists of the terror group to expand foothold in Afghanistan prompted the USA administration to grant permission to the U.S. forces to suppress the activities of the terror group in the country. Gen. Charles Cleveland, said that IS operatives in Afghanistan numbered between 1,000 and 3,000 loyalists - though probably closer to 1,500.

Afghan security forces, backed by US air strikes, have been targeting ISIS in Nangarhar holdouts for several months.

Thus far, operations have been successful, Nicholson said. The numbers can not be independently verified. He said ISIS' areas of control in the province had been reduced from 10 districts to three while inflicting heavy casualties on the terror group.

Now, he said, they were retreating out of the Kot valley toward the south.

Meanwhile, five Taliban insurgents were killed and two others injured in clashes with Afghan Security forces in central Logar province.

"They were former members of the TTP, complete with their leadership, who wholesale joined Islamic State. earlier this year", Nicholson said.

Numerous casualties suffered by Afghan forces have occurred at static checkpoints, Nicholson said, and while reducing dependency on checkpoints is an objective, they are important for political and social reasons in lending a sense of protection.

Locator map showing Ahmad Wal in Pakistan, where Afghan Taliban leader Mullha Akhtar Mansour was reportedly killed by United States drone strikes.

"This is a demonstration of our commitment against these terrorists no matter where they commit their atrocities on either side of the border", Nicholson said.

Other Islamic State members in Afghanistan were originally part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, another militant group, he said.

  • Joey Payne