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Taliban labels Islamic State affiliate a ‘false sect’

“We call out to the nation that the seditious phenomenon called ISIS-K is void of today’s age and a false sect that spreads corruption in our Islamic country. It is forbidden to have any kind of help or relationship with them,” the Taliban said in a resolution on Saturday.

The resolution follows a three-day conference of religious leaders and elders in Kabul, according to Afghanistan’s state-run news agency, Bakthar.

ISIS-K (the k stands for Khorasan, the name of a historical region that covered parts of modern Afghanistan and Pakisan) has been operating in Afghanistan for the last few years.

It is a branch of ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — according to the Wilson Center, a non-partisan policy forum.

It has carried out numerous attacks on Afghan civilians and is thought to be responsible for thousands of deaths since its 2015 formation.

The Taliban’s resolution said that Afghanistan follows an Islamic system of rule and that “armed opposition to this system is considered rebellion and corruption.”

It added that “any kind of opposition to this Islamic ruling system, which is in conflict with Islamic Sharia and national interests, is corruption and illegal action.”

The connection between ISIS-K and its apparent parent group Islamic State is not entirely clear; the affiliates share an ideology and tactics, but the depth of their relationship with regards to organization and command and control has never been entirely established.

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US intelligence officials previously told CNN that the ISIS-K membership includes “a small number of veteran jihadists from Syria and other foreign terrorist fighters,” saying that the US had identified 10 to 15 of their top operatives in Afghanistan.

Its earliest members included Pakistani militants who emerged in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province around a decade ago, many of whom had fled Pakistan and defected from other terror groups, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Counter-terrorism analysts last year estimated its strength at around 1,500-2,000, but that number may have grown.

In its resolution on Saturday, the Taliban also pledged allegiance to Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, the group’s reclusive supreme leader, whom it referred to as the “leader of the people”.

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