PESHAWAR- The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) today stated that it was joining hands with Lashkar-i-Islam, the banned militant group operating in the Khyber tribal region.

The group also stated that it had appointed a new spokesman, Mohammad Khurrasani, weeks after sacking its former spokesman Shahidullah Shahid after he announced his allegiance with the Islamic State (IS).

TTP further said that its fighters under Mullah Fazlullah would support the LI and that a proper fight would be initiated against the security forces and government. The militant outfit also announced that it would send men to fight along with LI militants in Khyber.

The statement comes as the army is engaged in a military operation — Khyber I — in the restive tribal region. Khyber I came months after the military launched an offensive in North Waziristan to target local and foreign militants.

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and foreign militants. These are also home to religious extremist organisations including Al Qaeda.

The Khyber area also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, LI and Ansarul Islam.