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ISIS Leader in Afghanistan Is Killed in U.S. Airstrike

09 Apr 2018 The New York Times

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The killing of Qari Hekmatullah, who is standing with a black flag to his left in this video still, led to immediate infighting among rival factions of insurgents, according to Afghan government officials.

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Via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

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KABUL, Afghanistan — An American airstrike killed the leader of the Islamic State in northern Afghanistan, the latest in a series of crippling setbacks for the extremist organization in the country, according to American and Afghan officials on Monday.The American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., said in a news release that the strike in Faryab Province had killed Qari Hekmatullah and his bodyguard on Thursday. Mr. Hekmatullah was a key commander of the Islamic State in Khorasan, or IS-K, as the Afghan and Pakistani branch of the Islamic State is known.General Nicholson described the killing as a joint operation between American Special Operations troops and Afghan Special Security Forces, and said it was the latest in a series of successful efforts to kill Islamic State leaders. “A.S.S.F. and U.S. counterterrorism forces killed Hekmatullah and they will kill any successors,” General Nicholson was quoted as saying. “IS-K will be eliminated.”The spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, said that Afghan-operated drones had tracked Mr. Hekmatullah to his hiding place. Afghan officials cited photographs apparently showing Mr. Hekmatullah’s body as confirmation of his death.

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The killings followed a series of setbacks over the past year for the Islamic State in Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan. American strikes have killed Islamic State “emirs” and other leaders in that region, while government ground forces, supported by American Special Operations troops and air power, have driven the group from many areas it had previously held in the province. A New York Times reporter who visited the IS-K stronghold of Achin district recently found government forces firmly in control there. Continue reading the main story

Original Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/world/asia/afghanistan-isis-leader.html

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