The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that U.S. and Afghan forces have killed several top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders during raids in recent days.
Al-Qaida leader Omar Khetab, a senior leader of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, was confirmed dead Dec. 4 by Afghan forces. Khetab was known to carry out attacks against government and foreign troops and “had a role in advising in the use of heavy weapons such as rockets, mortars and training for Taliban night attacks,” according to a press release from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan reads.
Other al-Qaida leaders were killed in operations spread across Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces.
A senior Taliban leader, Mullah Shah Wali, aka Haji Nasir, commander of the militant group’s infamous “Red Unit,” was also killed in a strike Dec. 1 in Musa Qalah district of Helmand province, Afghanistan. Wali’s deputy commander and three other militants were also killed in the strike. (Military Times)
“These two operations together would never have been possible without the close cooperation between Afghan forces and USFOR-A, and they are proof our strategy is working,” Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "The entire international community agrees Afghanistan deserves security and lasting peace.”
The operations also had an impact on the terror groups beyond the deaths of these top leaders.
According to the Afghan National Directorate of Security, roughly 80 other members of al Qaeda were killed in addition to Khetab.
"This operation is a testament to the real growth the Afghan forces have achieved over the past year,” Nicholson said. "It is also another example of the lethality of the undefeated Afghan Special Forces and the success of working side by side with our Afghan partners.”
Nicholson also spoke of the impact Wali’s death will have.
"Mullah Shah Wali's death will disrupt the Taliban network, degrade their narcotics trafficking, and hinder their ability to conduct attacks against Afghan forces," he added. "USFOR-A and our Afghan partners will continue to aggressively target Taliban leaders to destroy their drug network, disrupt their communications, and deny them safe haven."