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US forces confirm ISIS-K leader’s death in Afghanistan

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle jets fly in formation June 12, 2009, during a combat mission over Afghanistan. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force)
September 03, 2018

After reports surfaced of a notable ISIS leader’s death in an Afghanistan airstrike, U.S. officials have confirmed the news – and the leader’s identity – on Sunday.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan confirmed that the August 25 airstrike in the eastern Nangarhar province did indeed kill ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed Orakzai, CNN reported Monday.

The airstrike was carried out by U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces after they were provided intelligence by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.

In a Resolute Support statement Sunday, Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said: “America and her allies are in Afghanistan to maintain pressure on the networked, trans-regional terrorists attempting to plot, resource and direct attacks from here.”

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Miller just assumed command of NATO-led forces on Sunday after Army Gen. John Nicholson departed.

“This is only part of the coalition’s work towards an Afghan security solution, but it is a vital part,” Miller added.

Orakzai marks the third ISIS leader killed in Afghanistan in the past two years. He led the Khorasan group of ISIS, which operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was reportedly in charge of at least 2,000 ISIS fighters.

At least 10 other ISIS fighters were also killed in the strike.

“U.S. forces are operating in Afghanistan to protect America as well as to support the broader global coalition of 41 nations denying safe haven for terrorists, and training, advising and assisting local Afghan counter-terrorism security forces,” the Resolute Support statement added.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell confirmed the strike had struck a “senior leader of a designated terrorist organization” but had not revealed who that leader was, or the specific terrorist organization.

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“The United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell added.

The U.S. continues to keep pressure on ISIS, conducting even more airstrikes in Afghanistan, and recently taking over the ISIS capital near Gurgoray in eastern Afghanistan.

In March, U.S. forces carried out a nighttime raid against ISIS in the Jowzjan province, which resulted in the death of an ISIS-K commander, as well as another terrorist fighter. Several other raids in the weeks earlier also resulted in the deaths of additional ISIS-K fighters and platoon commanders.

Despite the efforts, ISIS and the Taliban remain significant threats in Afghanistan.

Taliban commander Mullah Sher Agha said that peace in Afghanistan is up to the Afghan people. “Peace negotiations should be among Afghans and for Afghans,” Agha told CNN. “We should not wait for Pakistan, Iran, Russia or America to bring peace to Afghanistan.”