IS using Afghanistan to prepare for Central Asia invasion - Russian Security Council Chief
Tehran/Sputnik/UNI: The Islamic State terrorist group (IS, outlawed in Russia) is consolidating its forces in Afghanistan in preparation for an invasion of the Central Asian countries, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday.
The Russian security chief along with his counterparts from China, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, are currently participating in a multilateral security meeting on Afghanistan in Tehran. The first meeting in such a format, dubbed the Regional Security Dialogue, in October 2018, focused on regional cooperation to confront security threats stemming from terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
"The IS militants are concentrating their efforts on strengthening their presence in the north of Afghanistan, where there are already over 2,000 fighters, to counter the Taliban and prepare a bridgehead for invading Central Asian countries through Tajikistan and Turkmenistan," Patrushev said, adding that the security situation in Afghanistan had worsened since the council’s previous meeting.
The IS fighters might target critical infrastructure, security services and diplomatic missions, as well as foreign citizens, the Russian official warned.
He further noted that despite the success of the recent operation against the IS members carried out by government forces, there could still be over 4,000 terrorists in Afghanistan.
First Deputy Chief of the Russian Government Staff Sergei Prikhodko said in early November that up to 10,000 IS terrorists were operating in Afghanistan, mostly in its northern and eastern territories.