The Pentagon announced Friday that a U.S. airstrike took out ISIS’s Afghanistan leader, according to The Atlantic.
Abu Sayed was amongst the ISIS members killed by an airstrike that the Pentagon said “will significantly disrupt the terror group’s plans to expand its presence in Afghanistan.”
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Sayed’s death marks a significant advancement in the U.S. effort to drive ISIS out of Afghanistan by the end of this year. While ISIS is predominately based in Iraq and Syria, the militant group extended its operations to Afghanistan in 2015. For now, ISIS retains limited territory in Afghanistan, with major strongholds in Kunar and the eastern province of Nangarhar. While the Pentagon estimated that around 2,500 ISIS fighters were stationed in Afghanistan in 2015, they have since reported that ISIS-K is now down to less than 1,000 militants. In addition to battling U.S. and Afghan forces, ISIS-K has also clashed with the Taliban, which maintains a much larger presence in the nation.
Defense Secretary James Mattis called the strike “obviously a victory on our side.”
“It is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting [ISIS-K] back. It’s the right direction,” Mattis told reporters on Friday, though he struggled to say how long the group would be thrown off by the loss of their leader. Mattis speculated that a death like Sayed’s would place ISIS-K at a disadvantage “for a day, a week, a month,” depending on “what kind of people are below [him].” On the same day, John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the deaths of three ISIS-K leaders in a single year emphasized that “there is no safe haven for ISIS-K in Afghanistan.”
In June, Mattis commented that the U.S. was “not winning in Afghanistan right now.”
Mad Dog went on to say that he hoped, at the time, to “correct this as soon as possible.”
Hopefully, this latest development means the tides are turning.