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Afghan IS Commander Hits 11 of His Own Fighters

IS accuses Taliban militants of being apostates because they have established connections with foreign countries through their office in Qatar

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Map Of Archin Image Source: VOA

An Islamic State (IS) commander in Afghanistan killed 11 of his fellow fighters in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghan provincial authorities said.

The Nangarhar governor’s spokesperson, Attaullah Khogyani, told reporters on Friday about the unusual killings carried out by IS commander, Zameen Jan — also known as Abubakar — but provided few details about why the commander would target his own men. Khogyani said that after the killings, the commander was wounded by Taliban fighters who were now holding him.

Local residents and a posting by the Taliban on its Facebook page claimed that Jan took revenge on his fighters after his brother, a member of the Taliban, was killed by IS fighters this week in a gunbattle. IS has not commented on the report.

IS active in Achin

The Islamic State group has established a footprint in a number of Nangarhar districts, including Achin.  Its fighters have launched multiple attacks on government security checkpoints. The group has also engaged in fierce clashes with rival Taliban militants in the province.

Afghan and NATO forces recently launched cleanup operations, and some areas have been cleared of IS fighters. But despite the claims by Afghan authorities to have weakened the group, IS fighters remain active in the province.

Islamic State fighters arrested by Afghan security personal stand outside the Afghan police headquarters in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 9, 2016 Image Source: VOA

Their influence remains so strong that thousands of students in parts of Nangarhar have been unable to attend schools because IS forbade them from opening.  The group also recently restarted its propaganda radio broadcasts in Nangarhar after being knocked off the air by government airstrikes earlier this year.

The Taliban and IS have become enemies as the Taliban view IS as an outside force, according to Kabul-based security analyst Wahid Muzhda. IS accuses Taliban militants of being apostates because they have established connections with foreign countries through their office in Qatar, he said.

Nevertheless, he said that the group’s struggles appear to be weakening its appeal in Afghanistan.

“IS has lost its attraction,” he said, adding that IS “is faced with internal divisions, and many commanders have already abandoned the group.”

Muzhda said that overall, IS is struggling to hold on to conquered territory while under pressure from both the Taliban and the government. (Source: VOA)

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Less than Half of Americans Support North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): Survey

NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece

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FILE - Flags of NATO member countries fly at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

A new survey shows that less than half of Americans support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance originally designed to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, but now focused on Russia and non-state actors such as the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

The YouGov survey, released to commemorate the 70th anniversary of NATO, found that only 44 percent of Americans support the United States’ place in the agreement. That was down 3 percentage points from when the survey was conducted in 2017.

The poll also surveyed other NATO countries and found that support for the alliance had decreased significantly in the past two years among key European allies. Support for NATO dropped in Britain from 73 percent to 59 percent, in Germany from 68 percent to 54 percent, and in France from 54 percent to 39 percent.

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Support for NATO dropped in Britain from 73 percent to 59 percent, in Germany from 68 percent to 54 percent, and in France from 54 percent to 39 percent. VOA

YouGov said there is a generational divide in the United States over support for NATO, with 56 percent of the Baby Boomer generation, who grew up at the beginning of the Cold War, believing that the treaty continues to serve an important role in defending Western nations. Only 35 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of Generation X members support U.S. participation in the alliance.

There is also a political divide, according to the survey, with 60 percent of Democrats in the United States agreeing the alliance serves an important role, while only 38 percent of Republicans believe the same.

YouGov contacted more than 1,200 U.S. adults for the survey, which was conducted online, as well as more than 1,000 adults in several European countries.

NATO
NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece. VOA

NATO was formed to be an alliance of Western nations that would balance the military power of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe. After the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, some experts questioned what part the alliance would play in international security, but the return of Russian assertiveness under President Vladimir Putin has partly changed that.

ALSO READ: On NATO’s 70th Birthday, Trump Takes Credit for Increased Burden Sharing in Defense Spending

NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the group, saying many NATO members do not spend enough on defense to fully meet their commitments under the agreement. (VOA)