ISIL-linked commander killed in Afghanistan: Officials
Iran Press TV
Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:38PM
A suspected ISIL-linked militant commander has been killed in an airstrike by Afghan military forces in the country's southern province of Helmand, officials say.
Hafiz Waheed, a successor to Abdul Rauf Khadim who was killed last month in a US airstrike, died together with nine others in the Sangin district of Helmand Province late on Sunday, the Afghan Defense Ministry announced in a Monday statement.
All the militants were linked with Takfiri ISIL terrorists who control parts of Syria and Iraq, the statement noted, adding that six others were injured in the raid.
Since Khadim's death on February 9, Waheed had taken over his anti-government militia, said Zamen Ali, a top Afghan army officer in southern Afghanistan.
A former Taliban commander, Khadim reportedly changed his allegiance to the ISIL, raising the fears of the terrorist group's expansion of its attacks in Afghanistan.
The ISIL, however, never confirmed the report. An unidentified Taliban commander also said that Khadim had not formally joined the ISIL and the terrorists "had not recognized him."
Waheed's supporters were active in some areas of Sangin district, where the army began an operation in February against the militants to weaken the Taliban before the start of the so-called 'fighting season,' said Rasol Zazai, an army spokesman in Helmand Province.
The army operation, code-named "Zolfiqar," was the Afghan troops' first major offensive after US-led forces ended their combat mission in the war-torn country.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington's so-called war on terror. The military offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues across the country despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.
The US-led combat mission in Afghanistan ended on December 31, 2014. However, at least 13,500 foreign forces, mainly from the United States, have remained in Afghanistan in what the US is calling a support mission.
US-led NATO says the forces will focus mainly on counterterrorism and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.
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