Local Sources: Taliban Utilizes ISKP Fighters in Balkhab, Sar-e Pol Province

As tensions escalate between the Taliban and Mawlawi Mehdi Mujahid, the group’s former affiliated commander in Sar-e Pol province, local sources have reported that the Taliban group is now utilizing the Islamic State of Khurasan Province (ISKP) fighters to fight against Mawlawi Mehdi in Balkhab district.

It is reported that the Taliban rebels have surrounded Balkhab district from three directions, where Commander Mehdi has taken refuge.

Meanwhile, a local source told Hasht-e Subh that when the Uzbek-affiliated-Taliban members in the north of the country refused to fight against Commander Mehdi, the Taliban group referred to the ISKP group so as to utilize them against this commander.

This comes while the ISKP group has carried out the bloodiest attacks on Shiite communities at mosques and schools throughout Afghanistan, and now the Taliban group is using them to fight against only Hazara-affiliated Taliban’s own members in Balkhab district.

The source further added that ISKP fighters have moved from Qosh Tapah and Darzab Jowzjan districts and have been deployed with the agreement of the Taliban in Kotal Regi, Balkhab district.

According to sources, the ISKP fighters carried out their first attack from the Kotal Regi district on the Balkhab district which reportedly lasted for three hours.

On the other hand, the elders of the Balkhab district have committed to protecting Commander Mehdi to defend the district.

According to sources, hundreds of forces under the command of Mehdi are preparing to counter the Taliban attacks.

At the same time, the Taliban have referred to the Shiite Ulema committee to intervene and mediate so as to resolve the tension without weapon clashes.

Using Ulema as a mediator has been strongly criticized by the critics with reference to the history that Pashtun rulers have used this tactic for jailing their opponents from the other ethnicities. Similar incidents have happened in the past where the rulers had not been loyal to their promises and usually have killed the opponents as soon as he has agreed to put down their weapons.

With the news of ISIS-K to be used against Mahdi in Balkhab proves that the Taliban have been lying to the international community over the non-existence of ISKP in Afghanistan. The Taliban spokesman has always rejected the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan; despite, several insurgent cases in which ISKP has directly claimed the responsibility.