KABUL – A leader of the Al-Qaeda terror organization in Afghanistan, Omar Khitab, and another 80 of its members were killed in several joint operations conducted in recent weeks by the United States and the Afghan security forces in southeastern Afghanistan, an official source said on Tuesday.
“As a result of this joint operation, the most senior leader of this group (Al-Qaeda) Omar Khitab, known as Omar Mansour, and 80 members of the mentioned network were killed,” the National Directorate of Security said in a statement.
The week-long operation, which ended Friday, was carried out in at least three southeastern Afghan provinces, including Ghazni, Zabul and Paktia, the NDS said.
The NDS added that Khitab was the second-most important leader of the extremist organization in the Indian subcontinent after Asim Omar and the senior-most leader to have been killed in Afghanistan so far.
Moreover, the US and Afghan forces also captured at least another 27 Al-Qaeda members and “fully destroyed” five of its bases during the operation.
The NDS affirmed that the members of Al-Qaeda have been “directly involved” in attacks against Afghan and foreign groups in the country since 2005.
The Al-Qaeda insurgents “have been playing the role of advisors, coordinators of communications, and were providing training in use of heavy weaponry and providing night raid training for the Taliban,” according to the NDS.
There has been an escalation of violence in Afghanistan, which is going through one of its most critical phases since the invasion of the country by the US in 2001 to topple the Taliban government for harboring former Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.
Since the end of NATO’s combat mission in January 2015, Kabul has been losing ground to the insurgency and now controls only 57 percent of the country, according to the Special General Inspector for Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) of the United States Congress.