Tactical Talk (Update) The latest territorial conquest by ISIS will be familiar to anyone who remembers the US hunt for Osama bin Laden: the mountainous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. The New York Times reports that ISIS has gained control of the complex of caves and tunnels once used as a hiding spot for bin Laden. (One assessment calls the al-Qaeda’s leader escape from there in the wake of the 9/11 attacks one of the US military’s biggest military blunders.) The Times sees it as a “strategic and symbolic victory” for ISIS over the Taliban, adding that ISIS sought to seize control of the area after the US dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a previous underground stronghold elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Newsweek similarly sees the move as significant, one that is “not only indicative of the group’s power, but of a lack of preparedness on the side of U.S.-backed government forces.” ISIS released an audio recording boasting of the victory and saying its flag was now flying over the area, the AP. The local Afghan police official confirmed that Tora Bora is now in ISIS hands. (The Islamic State also made a powerful statement with its recent attack inside Iran, even as it is losing territory in Iraq and Syria.)