The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has suffered another setback at the hands of United States special forces. The office of the president of Afghanistan, Mr. Ashraf Ghani, released a statement confirming the death of ISIL leader Sheikh Abdul Hasib following a raid conducted by Afghan and U.S. special forces on April 27.
Abdul Hasib had been a prominent adversary of President Ghani, who was responsible for co-ordinating numerous violent attacks in the region. On March 8, Hasib’s militants, disguised as hospital staff, entered the Afghan Army hospital in Kabul and carried out a bloody assault that left at least 50 civilians dead.
According to President Ghani’s office, “[Hasib] was responsible for ordering the attack on the 400-bed hospital in Kabul, kidnapped girls and beheaded elders in front of their families.”
Abdul Hasib was known as an evasive leader, resulting in little to no information about the former Taliban commander. Hasib switched his allegiance to the Islamic State in Afghanistan, taking over from his predecessor, Hafiz Saeed Khan, who was killed nine months ago in a U.S. airstrike. However, President Ghani is confident he was behind the Kabul hospital attack.
As the leader of Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib has propagated a continuous onslaught of attacks in an attempt to destabilize the region and usurp power from President Ghani’s administration. Hasib’s regiment is also known as the Islamic State in the Khorasan (ISIS-K), which is a name for both Afghanistan and Pakistan that dates back to ancient times.
While stationed in Nangarhar Province in the eastern part of Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib’s group has been growing rapidly in numbers — as many as 3,000 at one stage — which resulted in Afghan and U.S. forces combining to carry out a bombardment of airstrikes. The military action has succeeded in reducing Hasib’s fighters to roughly 700.
However, even as militant numbers in the Nangarhar Province declined, fighters managed to execute a suicide bomb attack in Kabul that killed more than 80 people.
Frequent joint operations between Afghan and U.S. forces have yielded significant results in the war against ISIS. However, in a controversial move, President Donald Trump last month ordered the U.S. military to deploy the deadliest non-nuclear bomb in the world. The 22,000-pound “mother of all bombs” (MOAB) detonated in the Nangarhar Province, on the eastern border with Pakistan, and killed nearly 100 ISIS militants.
The April 27 raid in Nangarhar Province was completed by 50 U.S. Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos near the site of the devastating MOAB detonation on April 13. The Pentagon confirmed that soldiers were immediately surrounded by rapid fire, which lasted for more than three hours.
After commanders had called for military support, multiple F-16s, an AC-130 aircraft, drones, and Apache assault helicopters were deployed to carry out extensive airstrikes in aid of the allied troops. Even though Abdul Hasib was the primary target, various other ISIL leaders, as well as 35 ISIS militants, were eliminated during the raid.
General John Nicholson, a U.S. Forces commander stationed in Afghanistan, confirmed that “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.”
Two United States Army Rangers were killed during the April 27 raid on Abdul Hasib’s compound. Sgt. Joshua Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron Thomas were casualties of the operation and reportedly hit during friendly fire.
[Featured Image by AP Images]