Head of ISIS in Afghanistan killed in US operation: Pentagon

Head of ISIS in Afghanistan killed in US operation: Pentagon

By Loree Lewis   
U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment search mountains in the Andar province of Afghanistan for Taliban members and weapons caches. (Staff Sgt. Marcus J. Quarterman/U.S. Army file photo)

WASHINGTON – The leader of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in a U.S. strike against the group’s headquarters in the northeastern Kunar Province on Tuesday, the Defense Department said Friday.

Abu Sayed was the third leader of the group, known as ISIS-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), to be killed by U.S. forces over the past year. U.S. and Afghan forces launched an offensive against ISIS-K in early March to drive the group from the eastern Nangarhar Province, and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, has said that the goal is to defeat ISIS-K in 2017.

“We will continue until they are annihilated. There is no safe haven for ISIS-K in Afghanistan,” Nicholson said in a statement Friday.

Defense Department chief spokesperson Dana White described the operation as a raid in a statement, and said that the operation also had killed an undisclosed number of other ISIS-K members.

Sayed took over as emir after Abdul Hasib was killed in an April raid in Nangarhar Province by U.S. and Afghan forces. Several other high-level ISIS members and almost 35 other ISIS fighters also were killed. Two U.S. Army Rangers also were killed in the operation, potentially from friendly fire. Prior to that, then-emir Hafiz Sayed Khan was killed in a July 2016 U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar Province.

“You kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back for – you known – a day, a week, a month, depending on who it is and what kind of people are below him,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Friday. “So, it’s obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back. It’s the right direction.”

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