KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan’s security forces have recaptured Tora Bora, a former fortress of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, from Islamic State militants, officials confirmed on June 20, RFE/RL reported.
IS had taken the tunnel and cave complex in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province from the Taliban five days ago. The two militant groups are enemies.
The legendary complex of tunnels and caves once served as a hideout for bin Laden, who escaped from the mountains into Pakistan after U.S. bombings and subsequent operations in 2001 failed to kill or capture him.
The “Tora Bora area of Pachiragam district is completely Daesh free,” the Nangarhar governor’s office said. The recapture was confirmed by officials in Kabul, who said at least 22 militants were killed in the clearing operation.
Afghan security forces are now advancing toward the villages of Alif Khel and Meerkhany to push IS further back, the governor’s office said.
Analysts considered the capture of Tora Bora by Islamic State militants as their significant symbolic victory in Afghanistan and a major tactical advantage in their clashes with the Taliban.
U.S. and Afghan forces have been battling IS in Nangarhar province since its emergence there in January 2015.
In April, the U.S. dropped a massive bomb on an IS complex in Nangarhar, which the Afghan Defense Ministry said killed more than 90 militants.