The U.S. has said that its forces have killed Abu Sayed, the leader of ISIS-Khorasan, the terror group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
The news comes days after ISIS admitted its 45-year-old leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an air strike in the Iraqi province of Nineveh.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement said Sayed was killed “in a strike on the group’s headquarters in Kunar Province on July 11.
U.S. Navy Captain Bill Salvin, spokesman for U.S. Forces Afghanistan who provided additional detail of how Abu Sayed was killed said he was killed in an airstrike by a U.S. drone.
The initial Pentagon statement noted that Sayed was killed in a “raid”.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters that the death of Sayed “sets them back for a day a week, a month, it’s about who he is and what kind of people are below them.
It is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back, it’s the right direction.”
Gen. John Nicholson, Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a statement, “This operation is another success in our campaign to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017.
Abu Sayed is the third ISIS-K emir we have killed in the last year and we will continue until they are annihilated. There is no safe haven for ISIS-K in Afghanistan.”
It would be recalled that Hafiz Sayed Khan was killed in July 2016 and another emir Abdul Hasib was killed during a joint U.S.-Afghan commando raid in April.
April’s raid also resulted in the deaths of several other high ranking leaders of ISIS-K, the terror group’s regional branch, and 35 ISIS fighters.
However, two American soldiers died in the attack.
The presence of Sayed in Kunar is noteworthy; the other two leaders were killed in neighbouring Nangarhar province the terror organisation’s traditional powerbase.
Afghan and U.S. forces launched a counter ISIS-K offensive in early March 2017 and Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has pledged to drive the terror group out of Afghanistan by the end of 2017.
Unlike elsewhere in Afghanistan where U.S. troops primarily serve a training and supporting role, U.S. special operations forces have been directly engaged in the offensive against ISIS in Afghanistan, conducting raids and strikes in the country’s eastern provinces.