KABUL — The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday warned ISIS militants to stay out of Afghanistan in a rare open letter to the extremists that have conquered swathes of the Middle East.
The Islamic Emirate — the Taliban's name for Afghanistan — only allows the struggle "against foreign invaders to be under the leadership of" the Taliban, read the letter signed by the group's deputy leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and shared with NBC News.
"Jihadi groups across the Muslim world are struggling for Islam and they have their own organizational structure," continued the letter, which was addressed to ISIS' leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. "If your meddling in their affairs creates division, it will cause in bloodshed within these organizations."
The lengthy statement was issued amid reports of deepening divisions within the Afghan Taliban, with some commanders supporting peace talks with the government and others vowing to continue fighting until the last foreign solder left the country. In January, ISIS' media arm declared Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan to be one region called the province of Khorasan, prompting some fighters to pledge allegiance to the group.
According to the government of the eastern province of Nangahar, around 100 families have been displaced by fighting among militants in the last three weeks. About 150 fighters have been killed during that time, a spokesman for the provincial government told NBC News.