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Daesh shifting focus to Central Asia after Mideast defeats: Security official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Suspected Daesh members stand next to weapons as they are presented to the media at the police headquarters in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, May 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A Russian security official has warned that the Takfiri Daesh terror group is now seeking to shift the main focus of its acts of terrorism from Iraq and Syria, where it is suffering fatal blows, to Central Asia.

Daesh seeks to subdue some Taliban militants and other local extremist groups to create a new power base in Afghanistan and extend its influence to Central Asia, Russian media quoted Colonel General Andrey Novikov, the head of the Anti-Terrorist Center (ATC) of the Commonwealth of Independent States, as saying during an address to two UN Security Council committees on Friday.

The Takfiri group “exports a new model of extremist and terrorist activity from the battle zones [in Syria and Iraq] to the Central Asian states,” he was quoted as saying by Russia’s TASS news agency.

Novikov stressed that the rise in terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s northern regions bordering the Central Asian countries could be an indication that some commanders of the militant group had switched their allegiance and joined Daesh.

The ATC head also pointed to a 2015 Daesh announcement regarding the creation of a new “province” with a center in Afghanistan that included the territories of the Central Asian states.

He drew a parallel between the military strategies being used by Afghanistan’s local Taliban militants to those previously “typical” for Daesh terrorists.

This photo taken on November 3, 2015 shows Afghan Taliban militants at Bakwah district in the western province of Farah. (By AFP)

Local extremists, Novikov said, are now trying to capture large areas and then take over the surrounding territory, thus preparing a bridgehead for further expansion.

“In the medium term, Daesh set a goal of expanding its influence in the northern regions of Afghanistan and gaining access to the border regions of the Central Asian states as well as to the Chinese Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” Novikov said.

Meanwhile, the Russian security official noted that more than 7,000 citizens of the member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are currently on a wanted list for terrorism-related activities, including more than 2,000 mercenaries.

Daesh, which is mainly concentrated in Iraq and Syria, has been sustaining heavy losses in battles with national armies and allied forces in those countries in the past months.

The Takfiri group emerged in Afghanistan in early 2015 and has claimed responsibility for some deadly attacks in the country.

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