Afghan security forces cleared a valley in the district of Achin in Nangarhar that had been a Daesh stronghold since 2014.
Local residents said they had a “bitter experience” during the Daesh presence in ‘Bandar Valley,’ a remote part of Achin district which lies along the Durand Line, the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Khorasan branch of Daesh “no longer operates in Nangarhar” said the Ministry of Defense in a statement last week, which also claimed that up to 800 members of the group—including family members—surrendered to Afghan forces.
TOLOnews journalist Gulabuddin Ghubar, who visited the areas cleared of Daesh in Achin, said the group had dug tunnels between houses and built fortified areas. These areas, Ghubar said, were targeted by airstrikes just a few weeks ago.
Security officials interviewed by TOLOnews said that “public uprising forces” played an important role in eliminating Daesh in the area.
Daesh announced its so-called caliphate in Afghanistan for the first time from this valley, according to security officials.
The Taliban reportedly claimed their pressure on Daesh has also suppressed the group in Achin.
Ghubar said that according to local residents, there was a healthcare center in the valley five years ago, but it was reduced to “rubble” after Daesh took control of the area.
“The houses are destroyed, the roads are destroyed, the schools are destroyed, the (agricultural) lands are destroyed,” said Siraj, a resident of Bandar Valley, in Achin district.
Rokhsat, a young resident of the valley, said he and his brother were held captive by Daesh members for ten days, and after he was released he took up a gun against the group and joined forces with the public uprising against Daesh.
“I get angry when I think about their (Daesh) oppressive treatment of me and the residents of this village,” he said.
The group had a bomb-making center in the area, according to local residents, which was destroyed.
Shams Rahman, a former member of Daesh who surrendered to Afghan forces last week, said he was 12-years-old when he joined the militant group.
“Leaving the group was very difficult,” he said.
“They had a special madrassa for children, and they had special books for it,” according to Sayed Zaki, another former Daesh member.
Nangarhar officials claim that the group has been defeated in the province.
Most members of the group are from Pakistan, according to two security officials who asked to remain anonymous.
“They (Daesh) are still in Takhto and Shandawolo (villages) but their numbers are less. They cannot resist there, because their supply route has been cut off,” said Nangarhar governor Shah Mahmood Miakhel.
President Ashraf Ghani visited Nangarhar province on Nov. 19 and commended the Afghan forces for their success against Daesh.
He said the “elimination” of Daesh in the province is a major achievement not only for Afghanistan, but for the region and the world.