The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday.
The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell 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 airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Orakzai is at least the 3rd ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan killed in the past 2 years. The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014.
The killing of Orakzai comes just after an audio recording of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently resurfaced, in which he congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout.
Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017, and there have been several reports is his death or injury.
Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them five-fold over 2016 levels.
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