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Joint Afghan-US Operation Targets IS

FILE - An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard in his vehicle in Camp Khogyani in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul — a region where homegrown militants loyal to the Islamic State group have made some inroads, Aug. 5, 2015.

A number of Islamic State militants were killed and some militant communication links to Syria and Iraq were destroyed in a multi-day assault by Afghan and U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.

The attacks took place in several locations in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, an area where IS extremists have recently expanded their activities despite Afghan security forces' intense efforts to contain them.

The governor of Achin district in the province, Haji Ghalib, told VOA’s Afghan service that “the offensives have been going on…for two days.”
U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn, a spokesperson for the U.S. forces, confirmed American participation but would not discuss details.

“U.S. forces conducted four strikes during operations in Achin district, Nangarhar province, November 4, against individuals threatening the force,” he said in a statement. “For operational security reasons, we will not discuss what may or may not have been targeted.”

But Ghalib and a local military commander told VOA’s Afghan service that the number of IS militants killed was more than 30. The strikes targeted IS communications equipment, including satellite phones and Internet connections that were being used to communicate with IS members in Syria and Iraq, Ghalib said.

"The [communication] facility, which had large [satellite] dishes, was set up on top of a mountain and they [IS fighters] would easily and directly give information from the area to their leaders,” said Ghalib.

A number of locals in the area told VOA that sounds of heavy artillery were heard over the past two days. Local police said they plan to survey damages to IS installations in the coming days.

In recent months, there has been an uptick of IS insurgency in Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province where IS fighters have launched multiple attacks on Afghan security checkpoints.

There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 IS militants in the country, according to intelligence reports.