Afghan officials have stated that Abu Sayeed Orakzai, head of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, was recently killed in a U.S. strike. The attack occurred in the Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border.
The attacks were confirmed by Martin O’Donnell, a spokesperson for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. O’Donnell reminded the press that a spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the attacks as well.
This is not the first time that the U.S. has carried out an attack in order to disrupt ISIS’ integrity. In July of 2017, the Pentagon killed Abu Sayed, the heir of the Islamic State. In 2016, Hafiz Sayed Khan was also killed by a U.S. drone strike.
O’Donnell used the opportunity to draw a distinction between U.S.-backed efforts against Taliban and groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS-K, which are extremist Afghan groups. He stated:
“These efforts are unlike the nationwide Afghan-led offensive targeting Taliban irreconcilables who refuse to listen to the calls of the Afghan people for them to take the courageous step towards peace and reconciliation. These efforts target the real enemies of Afghanistan, the same enemies who threaten America.”
While both make constant efforts to attack ISIS, the U.S. and the Taliban do so for different reasons. The U.S. is currently attempting to prevent ISIS from taking over Afghanistan, following the success of attacks in both Iraq and Syria. The Taliban, on the other hand, sees the Islamic State as a rival.
Parts of Afghanistan are currently being tightly held by Taliban forces. Although the Taliban has engaged in peace talks with the Afghan government, a resolution doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon. Recent attacks have solidified the Taliban’s position in the region.
Featured Image via United States Department of Defense