Kunduz provincial governor Mohammad Omer Safi has said that Afghan insurgents are fighting alongside Daesh in the country's besieged northern province.
Speaking to Associated Press, Safi said that the Taliban in these areas have pledged allegiance to Daesh in an attempt to create a safe haven for insurgents being driven out of Pakistan's northern Waziristan tribal region.
Safi said that in addition to switching from hit-and-run attacks to seizing and holding territory, the Taliban have also been joined by other militants, including from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The IMU has longstanding ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and is believed to have pledged allegiance to Daesh last year.
According to him, there are ominous signs of a growing Daesh presence in northern Afghanistan. He said fighters have raised the group's black flag in nearby villages, and that foreign fighters from Turkey, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been found among the dead.
However, a western intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the extent of any Daesh presence in northern Afghanistan remained unclear and had not yet been corroborated.
The provincial administration has meanwhile reportedly called up local militia groups and armed around 1,000 men to join front line battles and conduct patrols through areas cleared of insurgents.
Meanwhile, in a meeting on Sunday with Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, US Gen. John Campbell, Resolute Support Mission commander, said that Daesh was actively recruiting in the country, but was not yet operational in Afghanistan.
Campbell said: "It is absolutely a concern." He said the group was using a sophisticated social media campaign to attract Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan who were disgruntled at the lack of progress they were making in overthrowing the Kabul government.
He said Daesh's presence in Afghanistan has grown considerably in the past six months.