Members of the Islamic State group are training Russian-born fighters in Afghanistan, a Russian diplomat told Sputnik News Thursday. Some of the trainers include U.S. and U.K. citizens, the diplomat said.
"A number of [Islamic State group] training bases recruit militants in Central Asia and some Russian regions,” Zamir Kabulov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Department, said to Sputnik News, a Russian state news service. “Russian is the working language in this so-called camp.”
The presence in Afghanistan of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, is growing, with about 2,000 to 3,000 militants thought to be in the country, according to Russian military staff. The news of the training comes a day after it was revealed that ISIS members with links to Russian gangs tried to get their hands on nuclear material for a radioactive bomb before being stopped by police.
The United Nations first became concerned about the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan when reports came out in March about the group trying to unite various insurgent factions in the country, Reuters reported. Russia also expressed concern over ISIS having a presence in parts of the country that border areas that were once Soviet republics and that still remain close to Russia.
Russia has been trying to ramp up its fight against the Islamic State group recently. Russian ships fired more than 25 missiles into Syria Wednesday against ISIS targets, CNN reported. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday that Russian military strikes in Syria were not aimed at Islamic State group fighters, the Guardian reported. U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby told the Guardian many of the strikes were aimed at moderate Syrian opposition.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) October 8, 2015
In May, northern Afghan residents said ISIS militants were taking over the area that was once controlled mostly by the Taliban, NBC News reported. Many said the Islamic State group fighters were much more brutal than the Taliban. Young Afghans have been fleeing their home country given the violence caused by both ISIS and the Taliban, NBC News reported.