Taliban denies sharing IS intelligence with Russia

Kabul: The Afghan Taliban has officially denied any negotiations or exchange of information with Russia to fight the spread of the Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan.

The group dismissed the claims on Saturday, saying they “don’t need anyone’s support to fight and eliminate the presence of IS”.

“We are having talks, but not about fighting the IS. We want foreign forces out of our country, that is what we are talking about at the moment,” a Taliban spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

“They [IS fighters] are a few bunch based only in Nangarhar (province) and are not a big or a strong group that we would be threatened with.”

Zamir Kabulov, official at the Russian foreign ministry and President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, said earlier this week that “the Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours”.

“I have already said earlier that we and the Taliban have channels for exchanging information,” he said in remarks carried by Russian media.

“Both the Taliban of Afghanistan and the Taliban of Pakistan have said that they don’t recognise (IS leader Abu Bakr) Al-Baghdadi as a caliph, that they don’t recognise IS. Their interests coincide with ours.”

Earlier, a Taliban breakaway faction condemned the Russian-Taliban “shared interest” in fighting IS in Afghanistan.

Abdul Manan Niazi, spokesperson for the group, told the channel that partnering with Russia was “a fight against all Muslims” in the country.

“They have now turned to infidels to gather support and find a reason to kill their rivals who disagree with them and their strategies,” he said.

“IS does not exist in Afghanistan, there are just a few bunch from Pakistan who are IS loyalists. To fight that small group does not require Russia or anybody else’s support. This is completely against what our former leader Mullah Omar would have wished for.”

Even though Russia claims to have a communication channel with the Taliban, they are banned in the country, along with the IS. For more than a decade the Taliban has been considered by Moscow as a potential source of terror and instability in the former Soviet Union.

The IS has emerged in a number of different areas of Afghanistan and vowed to step up operations.

–Indo-Aisan News Service