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islamic state

Attack on U.S. troops and Afghan civilians in Kabul puts spotlight on ISIS-K

The Islamic State's offshoot in Afghanistan, Islamic State Khorasan, claimed responsibility for Thursday's deadly attack in Kabul that killed at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians. While many people may not have been aware of the ISIS affiliate working out of Afghanistan, the U.S. government and its allies have been keeping a close eye on this terror group.

Islamic State Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K, takes its name from the Khorasan province, which stretched across much of modern-day Afghanistan and Iran during the Middle Ages. After the Islamic State swept through Syria and Iraq in 2014, ISIS-K was launched in Afghanistan. Its earliest members were Taliban fighters who were pushed out of Pakistan into Afghanistan, as well as disgruntled Afghan Taliban members who thought the Taliban was too moderate and shouldn't be pursuing peace talks with the United States.

ISIS-K and the Taliban are enemies with different interests. While the Taliban focuses primarily on Afghanistan and establishing its strict rule over the country, the more extremist ISIS-K wants to establish a global caliphate. Since January 2017, ISIS-K fighters have launched dozens of attacks in Afghanistan, the Center for International and Strategic Studies said, including assaults against schools for girls and maternity wards inside hospitals.

Its ranks have been reduced in recent years due to clashes with U.S. and Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters, but it's believed there could still be thousands of ISIS-K members across Afghanistan. The U.S. government considers ISIS-K a threat to the United States and its allied interests in central Asia.