WASHINGTON: US forces have killed the head of the Daesh group´s Afghanistan branch, the Pentagon said Friday, marking the third time in a year the franchise has lost its leader.
Abu Sayed was killed in a July 11 strike in Afghanistan´s northeastern province of Kunar on the headquarters of Daesh-Khorasan Province (IS-K), which also killed additional militants, the Pentagon said in a statement.
“You kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back,” Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told reporters.
“It´s obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back. It´s the right direction.”
First emerging in 2015, IS-K overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border, but their part in the Afghan conflict had been largely overshadowed by the operations against the Taliban.
Afghan and US forces had killed Abu Sayed´s two predecessors atop the group´s Afghan branch — Hafiz Saeed in July 2016 and Abdul Hasib in late April of this year, the Pentagon said.
Hasib and other top militant commanders were killed in a joint raid by US Army Rangers and Afghan special forces.
At the time, the US military had said Hasib´s death would “help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017.”
“We will continue until they are annihilated. There is no safe haven for IS-K in Afghanistan,” said General John Nicholson, who leads US Forces-Afghanistan.