Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Kunar: Pentagon

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AT-KABUL: The United Stated military confirmed that the US airstrike killed Al Qaeda’s emir for northeastern Kunar province last month, in a major blow to the group as it seeks to re-establish safe havens in the country.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook described the assault that killed Farouq al-Qahtani as a “precision strike” and said it took place on October 23.

“This successful strike is another example of U.S operations to degrade international terrorist networks and target terrorist leaders who seek to attack the US homeland, our interests and our allies abroad,” Cook said in a statement.

He said another al-Qaeda leader in the country, Bilal al-Utabi, was targeted in a separate strike, though the results of that attack were not yet known.

The statement added that last month, US officials said multiple hellfire missiles had leveled two compounds in Kunar where the men (Bilal al-Utabi) were believed to be hiding.

One US official said the attack represented the most significant strike against the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan in years, the statement said.

It asserted the Pentagon has been actively hunting for Qahtani for four years. He had longstanding ties with Osama bin Laden before his death in the 2011 US raid on his Pakistan compound.

Qahtani has operated in Afghanistan since at least 2009 and led an al-Qaeda battalion since at least mid-2010, the statement noted.

It added his deputy Utabi was seen as the second or third-most senior Al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan.

It worth to mention several top leader of  Taliban, Al Qaeda and Daesh terrorists killed in a US strikes and frequently the strike targeted civilians.

On Thursday, U.S airstrikes killed at least 30 Afghan civilians in the northern province of Kunduz after a Taliban attack left two American soldiers dead.

The strike triggered emotionally charged protests in the provincial capital, with the victims’ relatives parading mutilated bodies of dead children piled into open trucks through the streets of Kunduz city.

A U.S defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “multiple” manned U.S planes were involved in the strikes, and they were targeted by small-arms fire from the ground.

Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces have been one of the most contentious issues in the 15-year campaign against Taliban insurgents, prompting strong public and government criticism.

Errant airstrikes contributed to a 42 percent jump this year in casualties caused by pro-government forces compared to last year, according to the UN. -AT

The Pashtun Times

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