ISIS leader in Afghanistan killed by drone: Pentagon

WASHINGTON • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group's leader in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed, was killed by a United States drone strike last week, the Pentagon said.

The strike last Tuesday targeted the militants' headquarters in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

Other ISIS members 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".

Sayed was chosen to lead the group in Afghanistan after his predecessor, Abdul Hasib, was killed in April.

US and Afghan forces have been pummelling ISIS positions in eastern Afghanistan for months in an effort to dislodge the militants from the craggy peaks and remote valleys of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.

During the April operation, a team of 50 US Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos assaulted a hamlet in Achin, a district of Nangarhar province, killing Hasib and roughly 30 other militants.

In Afghanistan, the terrorist group is known as 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 that the group may be falling back from its stronghold of neighbouring Nangarhar.

The Pentagon assesses that ISIS' presence in Afghanistan is down to fewer than 1,000 fighters; it had 2,500 fighters in 2015.

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline 'ISIS leader in Afghanistan killed by drone: Pentagon'. Print Edition | Subscribe