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US kills ISIS Afghanistan leader in airstrike, officials say

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq early in the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. (Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/U.S. Air Force)
August 27, 2018

An airstrike Saturday night in the Nangarhar province executed by U.S.-led Coalition and Afghan forces has killed Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate leader, Abu Sayed Orakzai – also known as Sad Arhabi – and 10 other ISIS fighters, officials said.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security provided intelligence that led to the decision to carry out the airstrike, according to provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani, Fox News 8 reported.

It was confirmed by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, who said the U.S. targeted Orakzai in the Aug. 25 airstrike and that he was killed in Afghanistan, Fox 8 said.

“I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell said in a statement.

The U.S. military has shown an increase in the number of airstrikes that they have carried out in Afghanistan, which has caused ISIS to lose its grip in places such as Iraq and Syria; it has also fortified military air resources to be used in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military conducted a nighttime raid in on ISIS fighters in Afghanistan on March 26 and 27 that killed an ISIS-K commander and another terrorist fighter in the Jowzjan province, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. military released rare footage of U.S. special operators and Afghan Special Security Forces executing that raid.

That tactical defeat of ISIS-K fighters in Jowzjan was the most recent in a series of Afghan and U.S. SOF counterterrorism successes targeting ISIS-K in northern Afghanistan this year, the Pentagon had said.

On Mar. 22, ASSF and USSOF eliminated four ISIS-K fighters in Darzab district. Six days earlier on Mar. 16, a U.S. airstrike killed ISIS-K platoon commanders, Omair and Abu Samaya, as the duo met in Sar-e Pul province. Later that evening, an ASSF nighttime raid on the ISIS-K headquarters in Jowzjan resulted in the removal of another 13 terrorists. Omair and Abu Samaya’s predecessor Khitab Aka, ISIS-K’s head facilitator of foreign fighters in Jowzjan, was captured by Afghan forces on Jan. 28.

ISIS-K is unable to take root in Afghanistan, relying on exploiting tribal rivalries for short-term allegiance and external support for fighters, equipment and financing.

The Pentagon has stressed that ISIS still remains a regional and global threat, regardless of their fatalities and losses.