Taliban Warns ISIS to Stay Out of Afghanistan

by F. Brinley Bruton and Fazul Rahim /
Image: Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni Province
Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni Province April 18, 2015. The Taliban announced the execution of the three men accused of murdering a couple during a robbery, saying they had been tried by an Islamic court. The killing was carried out in front of a crowd by Taliban fighters who fired at the men with AK-47s, according to a Reuters witness. Footage seen by Reuters show the men were made to sit on the ground with their eyes blindfolded and their hands tied at the time of their execution. REUTERS/Stringer Reuters

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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."

Related: Afghans Find ISIS-Linked Fighters Worse Thank Taliban

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.

Related: Taliban Commanders Set to Meet Afghan Officials: Militants

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.

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