Leader Of ISIS In Afghanistan Killed By US Forces 3 Months After Assuming Command

news
An Afghan and coalition force conduct a security operation in search of a Taliban facilitator in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Jan. 24, 2013.
Army photo by Spc. Ryan DeBooy

The leader of ISIS forces in Afghanistan was killed in a U.S. strike in eastern Afghanistan last week, the Department of Defense confirmed on July 14.


Abu Sayed had served as the emir of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, for less than three months when American troops raided the group’s headquarters in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on June 11, killing him and an unspecified number of other militants.

In a statement, the Pentagon touted the strike as a major milestone in its campaign to uproot ISIS-K, one that “will significantly disrupt the terror group’s plans to expand its presence in Afghanistan.”

The death of Sayed marks yet another devastating blow to ISIS, which is quickly losing ground as the U.S. and its allies ramp up the campaign to annihilate the terror organization. Until recently, the group held huge swaths of territory throughout the Middle East and has been fighting to establish footholds in Africa and South Asia.

Sayed died two days after coalition forces liberated Mosul, Iraq from ISIS control, while U.S.-backed Arab and Kurdish fighters continue to lay siege to the group’s de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. That city is now widely expected to fall.         

Sayed’s predecessor, Abdul Hasib, suffered a similar fate. Hasib was killed on April 27 in a raid carried out by U.S. Special Operations troops in Nangarhar Province, where the group has been most active since surfacing in the region more than two years ago. Sayed is the fourth emir of ISIS-K to die in a U.S. strike.  

Afghan and U.S. forces launched a campaign in eastern Afghanistan in early March to, as the Pentagon characterized it, “send a clear message to ISIS that there is no sanctuary for their fighters in Afghanistan.” Hundreds of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured in the operation, which has distracted from the bigger mission of beating back a resurgent Taliban.     

There are currently roughly 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan with several thousand more expected to deploy there in the coming months. Bolstered by about 5,000 additional NATO troops, their primary mission is to advise and assist Afghan forces fighting the Taliban, as the U.S. enters its 16th year in a war launched in response to the September 11 terror attacks.

Meanwhile, a smaller contingent of Special Operations troops are focused on the fight against ISIS-K. Six of the seven American service members killed in Afghanistan so far this year have died while involved in that mission.

But the primary target for the U.S. military in the country remains the Taliban, which in recent years has reversed many of the battlefield gains made by American troops and their allies at the height of the occupation. NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan officially ended in late 2014 and the Taliban swiftly moved in to fill the void, seizing key terrain and inflicting massive casualties on Afghan national forces.  

“We are not winning in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said last month while delivering an assessment of the war to lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mattis promised to deliver a finalized strategy for turning the conflict around by mid-July.

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

Read More Show Less