United States President Barack Obama's administration said Friday that up to 116 civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries where America is not at war. Obama's goal for the release of the numbers is reportedly to create greater transparency about the actions of the U.S. military and CIA in counterterrorism measures against militants plotting attacks against the United States. The announcement covered strikes from the day Obama took office in January 2009 through Dec. 31, 2015. The report by National Intelligence Director James Clapper said the U.S. conducted 473 counterterror strikes, including those by unmanned drones, in this period. Even though the report does not mention the countries where the attacks were carried out, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the Defense Department and CIA have pursued targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
The Afghan Taliban Wednesday confirmed the appointment of a new leader following the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike last week. This is the group's first official confirmation that Mansour was killed. In a statement sent to media, the Taliban declared that their new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of two of Mansour's deputies. It said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders, which was believed to have been held in Pakistan. The U.S. military carried out an airstrike Saturday targeting Mullah Akhtar Mansour (seen in this undated handout photograph by the Taliban) in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
The Afghan Taliban have named a deputy to former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new leader, a spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday, the group's first official confirmation that Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike. Haibatullah Akhunzada, who was named in a United Nations report last year as the Taliban's former chief justice, is reported to be a respected religious scholar but little is known of his background. Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of a network blamed for many high-profile bombs attacks in Kabul in recent years, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, will serve as deputies, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's main spokesman, said in the statement. "All people are required to obey the new Emir-al-Momineen (commander of the faithful)," the statement said. The announcement, following a meeting of the Taliban's main shura or leadership council, ends three days of confusion during which the Islamist movement had provided no official reaction to the death of Mansour in a drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday.