Pentagon Says Leader of ISIS in Afghanistan Was Killed in U.S. Drone Strike

A United States Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone in 2016 at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. A similar drone was used in the attack this week against Abu Sayed, the leader of the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan.
Josh Smith/Reuters

The leader of the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed, was killed by a U.S. drone strike this week, the Pentagon said Friday.

The strike, on Tuesday, targeted the militants’ headquarters in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

Other members of the group were also killed in the operation, the Pentagon said in a statement, which asserted that the attack would “significantly disrupt the terror group’s plans to expand its presence in Afghanistan.”

The Islamic State, however, has proved its resilience by replacing its leaders soon after they are killed.

Sayed was chosen to lead the group in Afghanistan after his predecessor, Abdul Hasib, was killed in April during a special forces raid in Nangarhar province, where the militant group has been active. Two U.S. Army Rangers were killed in the April operation, perhaps by friendly fire, the Pentagon has said.

In Afghanistan, the group goes by the Islamic State in Khorasan, an ancient name for the region that includes portions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has sought to expand the scope of its operations in Afghanistan, but the location of the latest strike, in Kunar province, suggests the group may be falling back from its stronghold of neighboring Nangarhar.

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SOURCE: Boston Globe, Michael R. Gordon; NY Times