Small Wars Journal

U.S. Forces Kill Head of Islamic State’s Afghanistan Operations

U.S. Forces Kill Head of Islamic State’s Afghanistan Operations by Gordon Lubold - Wall Street Journal

U.S. forces in Afghanistan killed the head of Islamic State’s branch in the country earlier this week, the Pentagon said Friday.

American forces killed Abu Sayed, considered the emir of the group that runs the terror network’s operations in Afghanistan, on July 11 in Kunar province, chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement. The Pentagon provided no additional details on the operation.

Other members of the group, known as ISIS-K, were also killed, which will “significantly disrupt the terror group’s plans to expand its presence in Afghanistan,” Ms. White said in the statement.

The death of Sayed is largely symbolic, since ISIS-K replaces its leaders as soon as they are killed. Sayed is the third such leader in a year, after the previous emir, Abdul Hasib was killed in April by U.S. forces. The emir who held the position before him was Hafiz Sayed Khan, killed by U.S. forces in July 2016.

“Afghan and U.S. forces launched a counter-ISIS-K offensive in early March 2017 to drive fighters from Nangarhar and send a clear message to ISIS that there is no sanctuary for their fighters in Afghanistan,” Ms. White said.

The U.S. has been officially fighting Islamic State in Afghanistan since January 2016, after the group began to establish a presence, mostly in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. Then-President Barack Obama provided the authority to the Pentagon to begin fighting the group at the time, when there were as many as 3,000 Islamic State fighters there.

That authority has helped curb the group’s activities and now officials estimate the group has fewer than 1,000 fighters inside Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials…

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