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Child ISIS fighter smiles as he surrenders in Afghanistan

01 Aug 2018 Daily Mail Online

A smiling boy with what appears to be an assault rifle poses for a photograph as more than 150 ISIS militants surrender to Afghan forces in JowzjanWith a deadly weapon tucked under his arm, a young boy smiles for the camera as he surrenders to authorities in Afghanistan.He is one of 30 women and children ISIS fighters to surrender in a move signalling the end of the extremist group's presence in the north of the country.In total, more than 150 Islamic State militants handed themselves in after weeks of intense fighting with the Taliban in Jowzjan. Officials described the surrender as a turning point. 'Their fighters have surrendered in the past, but this time it is more important because the Daesh leader and deputy surrendered with more than 150 fighters all at once,' an army spokesperson said.'With this, the Daesh chapter is going to be closed in the north.' The apparent IS capitulation comes after continuing pressure from Afghan and US forces.It also came as the Afghan army took over security in the eastern city of IS stronghold Jalalabad in Nangarhar.IS has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, mainly in the eastern province but more recently in Jowzjan.

The Afghan National Army has set-up checkpoints in the city of Jalalabad after security forces took control of the city recently hit by a string of ISIS attacks

A pair of Islamic State fighters (right) speak to journalists after giving themselves up to government security forces, seen as a 'turning point' in the fight on extremismThe group has fought turf wars with the much larger Taliban since emerging in Afghanistan in 2014. Estimates of their numbers in the country run as high as around 2,000.Until a few weeks ago there had been around 500 IS fighters in the Darzab and Qush Tepa districts of Jowzjan, provincial governor Lutfullah Azizi has said.But the Taliban stepped up fighting with the group there after an IS attack on their fighters last month killed at least 15 people.The Taliban took credit for the surrender announced by Afghan officials on Wednesday, claiming it had captured 130, wounded more than 100 and killed 153.  Among those killed was a local employee of the International Organization for Migration and a local staff member of the International Rescue Committee, both foreign agencies said in statements.

More than 500 ISIS fighters have been flushed out of Jowzjan after heavy attacks by the Taliban, leading to Afghan military seizing control in the war-torn province





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No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but IS is widely suspected of carrying it out.'To provide better security for the people, the national army is leading the security in the city,' a governor spokesperson said.The army will spearhead efforts 'to contain the emergency situation' for a week, Khogyani said. Eventually, police and soldiers 'will join hands to secure the city', he added, but declined to give further details.Mohammad Ali, a soldier deployed from neighbouring Kunar province, told AFP at a checkpoint that he and his colleagues would 'defend this city until the death'.The Taliban has not claimed a major attack in a city for weeks as it comes under increased pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government.But IS has carried out multiple attacks in Jalalabad and the capital Kabul in recent months, targeting everything from government ministries to a midwife training centre.

Last month an IS suicide bomber blew himself up near Kabul international airport, killing 23 people.The increased attacks come as US and Afghan forces intensify ground and air offensives against IS, and the Taliban step up their turf war with the group.'IS has come under intense pressure. They have lost a lot of men,' said former general Hadi Khalid.'The only strategy that can keep them going is to attack soft targets and that is what they have been doing recently.'However Borhan Osman, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, cautioned that IS attacks on soft targets were not necessarily the result of recent losses on the battlefield.'Attacking lightly defended targets has been part of IS-KP's modus operandi from the outset,' he said.

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