SHAFAQNA – The Pakistani Taliban has been waging its own insurgency against the Islamabad government The Pakistani Taliban have expressed their support for Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq. In a statement marking the Muslim festival of Eid, the group appealed to Islamists there to unite against the “enemy” – the US-led alliance. IS has taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq, but has also been battling al-Qaeda-linked rival militant groups.
The Pakistani Taliban has been waging its own insurgency against the Islamabad government since 1997.
Saturday’s statement was issued by the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Maulana Fazlullah, sent by his spokesman.
Addressing IS in Syria and Iraq, he said: “We are proud of your conquests against the enemies. We are with you in good and bad times.”
“In these troubled days, we call on you to be patient and stay united as your enemies are now united against you. Forget rivalries.”
The statement said the global Muslim community would “stand by you in these tough times and help with what we can”.
The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil in Islamabad says there has been little evidence so far of an agreement between IS and the Pakistani Taliban.
But recently, our correspondent adds, supporters of IS have been spotted in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar distributing pamphlets praising the group.
IS’s swift offensives in Iraq since June have prompted the US and its allies to carry out air strikes to halt the group’s advance.
On Saturday, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shia militiamen drove IS fighters from a strategically important bridge near the northern city of Kirkuk.
In Syria, IS has been advancing on the town of Kobane, on the Turkish border, which has become a key battleground between the militants and its opponents, who include Kurdish fighters as well.
More than 160,000 Syrians, mainly Kurds, have fled across the border since IS launched its offensive on Kobane last month.
More than 190,000 people have been killed in more than three years of conflict in Syria.
In 60 seconds: What does Islamic State want?
- Formed out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2013, IS first captured Raqqa in eastern Syria
- It captured parts of Iraq in June, including Mosul, and declared a “caliphate” in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq
- Pursuing an extreme form of Sunni Islam, IS has persecuted non-Muslimssuch as Yazidis and Christians, as well as Shia Muslims, whom it regards as heretics
- Known for its brutal tactics, including beheadings of soldiers, Western journalists and aid workers
- The CIA says the group could have as many as 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria