• Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:27 am

Russia wants Taliban to 'cope' with Islamic State group

  • Published at 10:22 pm October 14th, 2021
Taliban in Kabul
Taliban fighters patrol on vehicles along a street in Kabul on September 2, 2021 AFP

The hardline Islamist regime faces a threat from an IS group affiliate called Islamic State in Korasan 

Russia said on Thursday it expects the Taliban to deal with the Islamic State group in Afghanistan without external support, ahead of talks in Moscow next week.

The comments came after President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned of battle-hardened extremists from Iraq and Syria with ties to IS entering Afghanistan, reports AFP.

The Taliban, which seized control of Kabul from a pro-Western government in mid-August, are seeking international recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster. 

The hardline Islamist regime faces a threat from an IS group affiliate called Islamic State in Korasan (IS), a bitter rival that has staged deadly attacks.

"We are concerned about the continuing activity of the (IS) terrorist group" in Afghanistan, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters. 

"We expect that the words of the new Kabul authorities about their ability to cope with (IS) alone without external support will be put into practice."

Zakharova said Russia expected a delegation of the Taliban -- banned in the country as a terrorist group -- to arrive in Moscow next week for talks on Afghanistan. 

The meeting will focus on consolidating international assistance for Afghanistan to "prevent a humanitarian crisis" in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Zakharova added.

The Kremlin has in recent years reached out to the Taliban and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times.

But while Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new Taliban leadership in Kabul, the Kremlin is concerned about instability spilling over into Central Asia where it has military bases. 

After the Taliban takeover, Russia held military drills with Tajikistan -- where it operates a military base -- and in Uzbekistan. Both countries share a border with Afghanistan.

Putin has also repeatedly warned about members of extremist groups exploiting political turmoil in Afghanistan to cross into neighbouring ex-Soviet countries as refugees. 

On Wednesday, he warned that "terrorists" may even try "direct expansion" into neighbouring states. 

PIA suspends Afghan operations

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to Kabul on Thursday after what it called heavy-handed interference by Taliban authorities, reports Reuters.

The suspension took place as the Taliban government ordered the airline, the only international carrier operating regularly out of the Afghan capital, to cut ticket prices to the levels of before the fall of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

"We are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today because of the heavy-handedness of the authorities," a PIA spokesman said.

Earlier, the Taliban warned PIA and Afghan carrier Kam Air that their Afghan operations risked being blocked unless they agreed to cut prices that have spiralled out of the reach of most Afghans.

Flights between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely limited since Kabul airport was reopened last month.

US to resume Afghan evacuation flights by Dec

The US will resume evacuation flights from Afghanistan before the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Reuters reports citing The Washington Post.

The US-sponsored flights would help US citizens, legal residents and some visa applicants. No date has been set for the flights to resume, The Post added.

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