A senior member of al-Qaeda, Omar Khetab, and 80 other fighters of the militant group were killed in joint operations carried out by Afghan and the Resolute Support forces in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
In addition, 27 other members of the group were arrested in the military operations.
Khetab was the second senior leader of al-Qaeda after Asim Omar, the leader of the group in Indian Peninsula, according to the statement.
“Qasim, Hassan Hamza, Jonaid and Mustafa, military head of al-Qaeda, three Punjabi Taliban and two local Taliban fighters were among those killed in the military operations,” the statement said. “These members of al-Qaeda were directly involved in fighting against the government and foreign troops.”
“The members also had a role in advising in the use of heavy weapons like rockets, mortars and training for Taliban’s night attacks,” the statement added.
The Resolute Support in a statement sent to TOLOnews on Tuesday confirmed the death of Omar Khetab, a senior al-Qaeda leader as well as other al-Qaeda militants in military operations carried out in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces.
According to the statement, Khetab was the second senior commander for al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent and was directly involved in fighting against Afghan and foreign forces.
"This operation is a testament to the real growth the Afghan forces have achieved over the past year," said General John Nicholson, US Forces-Afghanistan commander. "It is also another example of the lethality of the undefeated Afghan Special Forces and the success of working side by side with our Afghan partners."
According to Resolute Support, in a separate operation, the Taliban's "Red Unit" commander in Helmand province, Mullah Shah Wali, aka Haji Nasir, was killed in a kinetic strike in Musa Qalah, Helmand, Dec. 1. One of Wali's deputy commanders and three other insurgents were also killed in the strike.
Wali and his "Red Unit" are responsible for planning numerous suicide bombings, IED attacks, and coordinated assaults against civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. Wali was directly responsible for coordinating operations and resupply of munitions, explosives, and materials for the Taliban throughout Helmand province.
"Mullah Shah Wali's death will disrupt the Taliban network, degrade their narcotics trafficking, and hinder their ability to conduct attacks against Afghan forces," Nicholson said. "USFOR-A and our Afghan partners will continue to aggressively target Taliban leaders to destroy their drug network, disrupt their communications, and deny them safe haven."
The Taliban in Helmand province are responsible for poppy cultivation and opium trade that funds their activities.
Both leaders are responsible for the deaths of many innocent Afghans, and their removal will both disrupt the terrorist operations of their respective organizations and improve overall security of the country.
"These two operations together would never have been possible without the close cooperation between Afghan forces and USFOR-A, and they are proof our strategy is working," Nicholson said. "The entire international community agrees Afghanistan deserves security and lasting peace."