Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Top Islamic State commander killed in Afghan raid

The killing of the Islamic State commander Hasib in an April 27 night raid, announced Sunday by the Pentagon and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, was carried out by a team of 50 US and 40 Afghan special operations forces.

Dozens of Afghan and American special forces killed Sheikh Abdul Hasib along with his 35 fighters in a combined operation against an IS cave and tunnel complex in the Achin district, the statement added. Hasib was believed to have been behind a series of major attacks in the region, including one on a Kabul military hospital on March 8 that left more than 30 dead, Reuters reported. Since the operation began, USA and Afghan forces have taken over half of the districts that ISIS-K controlled back from the group, according to Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan.

General John Nicholson, the Commander of U.S. Forces - Afghanistan, called the operation "another important step in our relentless campaign" to defeat the so-called ISIS Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), which covers both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

More than 50 Rangers and dozens of other partnered Afghan forces battled ISIS for over three hours in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, taking fire from all sides, according to the Pentagon.

In a tweet, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed Hasib's responsibility for the attack and claimed he also "kidnapped girls and beheaded elders in front of their families". US officials say they may have been killed as the result of friendly fire in the opening minutes of the three-hour battle.

U.S. military officials in Afghanistan have previously said Hasib's death would "significantly degrade" the group's operations and "help reach our goal of destroying them in 2017".

"The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have stepped up Counter-Terrorism operations to suppress the insurgency activities of the terror groups", the statement added.

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Two U.S. Army Rangers died in the April 27 raid.

The U.S. troops, supported by Afghan forces, have dramatically reduced the ISIS-K military footprint from a peak of as many as 3,000 to 600 now, WaPo learned from Navy Capt. William Salvin, as spokesman for American troops in Afghanistan.

There is no independent confirmation of the claims.

Their part in the Afghan conflict had been largely overshadowed by the much stronger Taliban.

US- Forces Afghanistan said they carried out a raid in Nangarhar province to target ISIS leader Abdul Hasib.

The April 26 operation, in Nangarhar Province, killed about 35 other militants, including several other "high ranking ISIS-K leaders", the us military command in Afghanistan said in a statement.

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