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Russia says Daesh terrorists moving into Afghanistan, pledges to boost Tajik army

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)
Tajik service members march during a parade following a nationwide military exercise, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on July 22, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia says members of the Takfiri Daesh militant group are moving into Afghanistan from Syria, Libya, and several other countries, stressing that Moscow would provide its Central Asian ally Tajikistan with military assistance if any security threats emanate from Afghanistan.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the remarks during a meeting with his Tajik counterpart, Sherali Mirzo, in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, on Wednesday.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as saying that Moscow had organized additional supplies of weaponry and equipment to bolster Tajikistan's army from its base in the country amid the "deteriorating" situation in Afghanistan.

"We continue to train qualified Tajik military personnel. We prepare them both at our military universities and at the 201st Russian military base," Shoigu said, adding that Moscow was ready to offer "any necessary help to (our) Tajikistan friends."

Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are scheduled to take part in joint drills near the border with Afghanistan next month. The planned exercises will take place as the Taliban militant group has ramped up offensives against Afghan government forces to seize further territory. The joint drills would take place from August 5 to 10 at the Kharbmaidon training ground in Tajikistan, 20 kilometers from the border with Afghanistan.

Tajikistan checked the combat readiness of its armed forces in major exercises last week. Some 230,000 security forces took part in the drills. Dushanbe also relocated 20,000 troops to strengthen its force on the border with Afghanistan amid the Taliban's advance in the war-torn country.

The Taliban claim to have seized control of 90 percent of Afghanistan's borders, amid the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces. The government in Kabul has dismissed that claim.

The United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban militants were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed the Taliban from power but it worsened the security situation in the country. The US and its NATO allies are blamed for the surge in violence in Afghanistan, and many say the invaders have failed to stabilize the security situation in the country.

US President Joe Biden has said that the withdrawal of the US-led foreign troops will be completed by the end of August, bringing 20 years of war to an end.

Tajik FM fears extremists will come in from Afghanistan

Meanwhile, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin has said his country is not yet ready to state the exact number of the potential refugees it would be open to receiving from Afghanistan if the conflict there continues, citing the need for anti-coronavirus measures as a potential complication.

"We need to create certain conditions for refugees to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, so we are unable to state the exact number of refugees we are willing to receive," Muhriddin said.

Imomali Ibrohimzoda, the first deputy chief of Tajikistan's Committee for Emergency and Civil Defense, had said on Friday that the country was ready to accept 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan on its territory.

The Tajik foreign minister said his country feared that the supporters of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which is outlawed in Russia, might enter Tajikistan disguised as refugees.

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