The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says the Taliban controls about 10 percent of the the country and the Islamist extremist group is battling with government troops for control of at least another 20 percent.
Army General John Nicholson also said at the Pentagon in Washington on September 23 that, separately, there are up to 1,300 Islamic State (IS) militants in Afghanistan who receive money, guidance, and communications support from IS leaders in Syria.
He said Afghanistan is paying a high cost in casualties in its difficult fight against Islamist groups.
Nicholson said many of the Afghan deaths are occurring at checkpoints, adding that many Afghan troops are not properly commanded, are ill-equipped, and poorly trained.
He said the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will help Afghans expand their control within the country and improve the quality of their forces.
He said the U.S. and Afghan military have killed many IS leaders and members in recent months and that they are in fewer Afghan areas than they previously were, holding only three to four districts now compared to 10 one year ago.
Nicholson said the IS fighters are largely in the Nangarhar region and are mainly former members of the Pakistan Taliban.
He added that the Afghan government's peace deal with notorious Islamist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar signed on September 22 is an "encouraging" step in bringing peace to the country.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters