Putin says ISIS fighters cluster together in Central Asia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that ISIS has about 2,000 fighters disguised as refugees in Afghanistan and wants to expand into ex-Soviet Central Asian countries.

In a video conference with the leaders of ex-Soviet states, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that many “extremist and terrorist” groups including ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are currently active in northern Afghanistan.

“According to our intelligence, the number of ISIS fighters alone in northern Afghanistan is about 2,000 people. Their leaders are seeking to project the group’s influence across former Soviet states in Central Asia to stir up religious and ethnic discord,” he said.

In Afghanistan, ISIS members claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against the Taliban regime. Russia expresses its concern that the entire region may become destabilized due to similar attacks.

This week, Putin expressed his concerns about the mercenaries deployed from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan. Moscow considers the Taliban an “extremist organisation” yet has maintained long-standing relations with the group.