The head of the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate was killed in an April 27 raid that cost the lives of two U.S. Army Rangers, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The raid was jointly run by the U.S. and Afghan National Security Forces and killed 35 additional ISIS fighters. The Pentagon is also investigating whether the two Army Rangers were killed by friendly fire. Military officials described a chaotic scene, where multiple U.S. fire supports were called in as the terrorist group mounted a fierce resistance.
“This is the second ISIS-K emir we have killed in nine months, along with dozens of their leaders and hundreds of their fighters. For more than two years, ISIS-K has waged a barbaric campaign of death, torture and violence against the Afghan people, especially those in southern Nangarhar,” U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement on the attack. Nicholson continued, “any ISIS member that comes to Afghanistan will meet the same fate.”
The U.S. also noted the terrorist leader played a lead role in organizing a massive March attack on an Afghan army hospital, which killed dozens. The U.S. has significantly escalated its campaign against ISIS in Afghanistan in the early months of the Trump administration, including dropping its largest non-nuclear bomb on the group’s headquarters in mid-April.
ISIS has proven resilient despite this uptick in raids and airstrikes. The group only controls a relatively small amount of territory in eastern Afghanistan but has adeptly used it to plan complex attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces.
The Trump administration is considering sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to support the Afghan National Security Forces. These forces are engaged in a brutal struggle on multiple fronts against both ISIS and the Taliban insurgents, who now control approximately one-third of the country’s population.