Hasib, who had been leading the faction since predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a U.S. drone strike last year, was believed the architect of several high-profile attacks, including a March 8 attack on Kabul's main military hospital that left dozens of medical staff and patients dead. Two U.S. Army Rangers also died in the attack that killed Hasib, part of an operation that included drone strikes that began in March along the border with Pakistan. The April 27 raid killed 35 ISIS fighters, including several high-ranking commanders. "This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K [Islamic State Khorasan] in 2017," the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul.
Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, al Qaeda's second in command, reportedly was killed Sunday in a drone strike in Syria. Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva cited unconfirmed reports saying a U.S. drone strike near al-Mastoumeh in Idlib province killed al-Masri, who has been described as the general deputy to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Video of the aftermath was posted on YouTube by the Smart News Agency. Al-Masri, 59, was in Iranian custody for a dozen years until 2015 when he was released and moved to Syria. Pictures of the car in which al-Masri reportedly was traveling were posted on Twitter.
The Afghan government is looking warily at the conservative religious scholar who has assumed leadership of the Taliban, seeing in him a rigid proponent of hardline orthodoxy who is unlikely to favor peace talks, officials said. "He is a very conservative, narrow-minded, inefficient kind of person who will never be able to unite the Taliban or gather support," said Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the deputy and spokesman of Mullah Mohammad Rasool, leader of the most prominent anti-Mansour faction in the Taliban. Pakistan, which has faced fresh accusations of harboring the Taliban after Mansour's death on its soil, said the drone strike had undermined the so-called quadrilateral peace process involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and China. But foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, who said the United States informed Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif of the strike against Mansour three-and-a-half hours before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said contacts would resume.
Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour has been killed, Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security confirmed Sunday afternoon after several hours of uncertainty. The Afghan intelligence agency said Mansour, who was officially named the group's leader last year, was killed in an "airstrike" in a remote area in Balochistan in southwestern Pakistan Saturday. Pakistani local residents gather around a destroyed vehicle hit by a drone strike in which Afghan Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was believed to be travelling in the remote town of Ahmad Wal in Balochistan, around 160 km west of Quetta, May 21, 2016. Although the Afghan Taliban is yet to release an official statement about Mansour's death, a senior Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Rauf, told the Associated Press that Mansour had been killed in an airstrike late Friday "in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area."