The Afghan Taliban has snubbed Russia claiming the extremist group does not need the help of Moscow to defeat the Islamic State (Isis). The Afghan group has issued a clarification to refute earlier claims made by a top Russian diplomat.
Rejecting the envoy's assertions, a Taliban spokesperson said the two parties were not sharing information or intelligence regarding tackling IS (Daesh) in strife-torn Afghanistan. Speaking to Al Jazeera, a Taliban spokesperson said: "We are having talks, but not about fighting Isil. We want foreign forces out of our country, that is what we are talking about at the moment. They [IS fighters] are a small bunch based only in Nangarhar (province) and are not a big or a strong group that we would be threatened with."
The spokesperson added that the Taliban did not "need anyone's support to fight and eliminate the presence of IS".
Speculation over a limited partnership between Russia and the Taliban emerged after Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin's special envoy to Afghanistan and Russia's foreign ministry department chief, asserted Moscow had opened channels of communication with the insurgent group. It was an unusual step for Moscow since the Taliban itself has been listed as a terrorist group by the Russian government.
"We have communication channels opened for sharing information. Both the Taliban of Afghanistan and the Taliban of Pakistan have said that they don't recognise (IS leader Abu Bakr) Al-Baghdadi as a caliph, that they don't recognise Isil," said the Russian diplomat using the other acronym for the Iraqi Islamist group.
Russia's purported move has come at a time when the Taliban has begun to flex its muscles in Afghanistan, capturing key cities in an apparent show of strength against the IS. Though IS forces have begun to emerge in Afghanistan, the Taliban remains the dominant Islamist group in the country. As part of IS's growing campaign, the extremist group has launched a radio station named "Voice of the Caliphate" to recruit radicals including those in the Taliban.