U.S. forces allegedly killed ISIS leader Abu Sayed in an airstrike earlier in the week
The head of ISIS’s Afghanistan branch was killed during a June 11th airstrike on ISIS headquarters in the Kunar province.
The pentagon announced that Abu Sayed was killed, and that his death marks significant progress in the ongoing effort to eradicate ISIS forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2017.
Abu Sayed took over from predecessor Abdul Hasib, who was killed by U.S. and Afghan forces in April. His predecessor Hafiz Sayed Khan died in a drone strike in July 2016.
In June, it was reported that the Pentagon made plans to send 4,000 additional troops into Afghanistan to serve in a training and advisory capacity to Afghan troops, after many individuals and entities criticized the Afghan forces as “reaching a stalemate” in their battle against the Taliban.
Despite Abu Sayed’s death coming at a “critical time” in Afghanistan operations – particularly as all the focus on systematically demolishing ISIS has allowed the Taliban to flourish, with fewer resources directed at them by the U.S. and Afghan governments.
U.S. Defense Secretary claimed that the U.S. is “not winning in Afghanistan” in June
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in June that he did not believe the U.S. was making any progress in Afghanistan, a comment that was heavily criticized by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.
On Friday, Mattis stated: “It is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting [ISIS] back. It’s the right direction.”
Mattis was unable to say how damaging the death of Abu Sayed would be to the terrorist Organization, and how disadvantaged they would be: “[it could be] a day, a week, a month . . . depending on what kind of people are below [him]”.
Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan stated on the same day “there is no safe haven for ISIS in Afghanistan.”