A new offensive against the Afghan government and people is being compounded by "an unprecedented convergence" of Taliban insurgents, more than 7,000 foreign fighters, and violent groups including ISIS, Afghanistan's UN ambassador says. Zahir Tanin today told the UN Security Council that these groups not only target Afghan troops and civilians with suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, hostage-taking, and assassinations but they seek control of districts and provinces as bases for their activities in Afghanistan as well as south and central Asia. Nicholas Haysom, the UN envoy for Afghanistan, adds that Afghan forces have been stretched, tested, and faced operational challenges since taking on full security responsibilities following an end to the US and NATO combat mission, but nonetheless, "Afghanistan is meeting its security challenges."
The commitment of Afghan troops "is beyond question," he adds, "and they are demonstrating resilience in the face of insurgent efforts to take and hold ground." Both officials say the influx of foreign fighters, including Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Pakistanis, into Afghanistan is a result of the Pakistani military's campaign in neighboring North Waziristan, which began last year. The government also estimates "there may be hundreds or thousands of people" operating under the black flag of ISIS, including some "extreme-oriented Taliban," Tanin says. Haysom says he told the Security Council "that increasingly Afghanistan, one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, is finding itself in the forefront of dealing with terrorists whose origins are the neighbors, and possibly whose eventual destination are its neighbors." He urges greater collaboration "in dealing with what is a regional, shared threat."