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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Senior ISIL commanders killed in Afghanistan air strike

Head of extremist group in Kunar province was among those killed on Thursday, US military says

Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of a US air strike in Nangarhar province on August 12, 2017. US officials have denied Afghan claims that civilians were killed in the attack, which came two days after an air strike in neighbouring Kunar province killed several senior ISIL leaders. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP
Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of a US air strike in Nangarhar province on August 12, 2017. US officials have denied Afghan claims that civilians were killed in the attack, which came two days after an air strike in neighbouring Kunar province killed several senior ISIL leaders. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP

A US air strike killed several senior ISIL members in Afghanistan last week, officials said on Sunday.

The attack on Thursday killed Abdul Rahman, identified by the US military as the ISIL "emir" of Kunar province, and three other senior members of the extremist group's Khorasan Province arm.

The senior US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said the death of Abdul Rahman "deals yet another blow to the senior leadership" of ISIL's central Asian affiliate.

Gen Nicholson has vowed to defeat ISIL militants in Afghanistan this year.

The group's emir, Abu Sayed, was reported killed in a strike on his headquarters in Kunar in July, the third ISIL emir in Afghanistan to be killed since July last year.

In April, Gen Nicholson deployed a one-tonne "massive ordnance air blast" bomb against ISIL positions in neighbouring Nangarhar province, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used by the United States in combat.

On Saturday, Afghan officials said as many as 16 civilians, including women and children, had been killed by a US air strike in Nangarhar, but American officials said only militants were killed.

As part of an increased campaign against both ISIL and the Taliban, the dominant militant group in Afghanistan, the US air force has dropped nearly 2,000 weapons in the country as of the end of July, compared to fewer than 1,400 in all of last year.

Despite some battlefield successes by Afghan and American special operations troops, ISIL has continued deadly attacks around Afghanistan, fuelling fears that the group is seeking to bring the group's Middle East conflict to Central Asia.

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Read more:

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ISIL lures jobless Afghans and Taliban with big salaries

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