United States forces conducted a military strike against Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour. It happened along the Pakistan/Afghan border around 3 p.m. local time.
According to CNN, the U.S. strike occurred just south of a town called Ahmad Wal. The source mentions that Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was possibly killed. Also, it’s possible that a second adult male who was riding in the same vehicle was killed along with Mansour.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) May 21, 2016
President Barack Obama authorized the Taliban strike, says the source. Reportedly, the military operation was carried out by unmanned drones. Likewise, there was no collateral damage. However, U.S. officials are still assessing the situation. Sources mention that the assessment could take days to gain confirmation due to the remote location. Yet, once there’s a physical confirmation, an update will be provided.
And while officials continue to assess the Afghan circumstances, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has advised that the president shouldn’t withdraw U.S. troops from the area until the situation is deemed safe without their presence. The source records Graham’s statement as follows.
“I’m glad to hear we decided to bring the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, to justice. Mansour has terrorized the Afghan people as well as coalition forces. I appreciate President Obama for authorizing the attack. And job-well-done to the members of our military and intelligence communities who carried out the mission.”
Likewise, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker mentioned that Mullah Mansour’s death, if verified, would be motivational news to U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan government.
In an earlier version of the report, the Pentagon made a statement. However, at that time, the agency didn’t give the possibly that Mullah Mansour had been killed in the Taliban strike. Yet, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook mentioned Mansour had been instrumental in planning attacks against Kabul facilities, as well as those around other Afghanistan areas.
U.S. airstrike 'likely killed' top Taliban leader https://t.co/yI6Bv70Vzm
— POLITICO (@politico) May 21, 2016
In essence, Cook emphasized that Mansour was a significant threat to Afghan citizens and its security forces — but also to U.S. personnel and its coalition partners. According to the press secretary, possible ex-Taliban leader Mansour had been a driving force in the feuding continuation between Afghan government and the Taliban, itself. The source notes that Mullah Mansour had strictly prohibited any Taliban leaders from engaging in peace talks with government officials. Thus, no reconciliation or agreement could be reached between the two organizations.
According to CNN, Mansour gained Taliban command last summer. This was well-after its former leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, died in 2013, says the source. To be clear, “mullah” is a cleric title rather than a name.
Prior to assuming the leadership position, Mullah Mansour reportedly held the chair as leader of Quetta Shura — which is a leadership council of Taliban and Islamic scholars. According to the Jamestown Foundation, the Quetta Shura is composed as follows.
“Quetta Shura members are veterans of the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s. A majority are mullahs…who adhere to Deobandism – a puritanical sect of Sunni Islam in South Asia.”
— The Hill (@thehill) May 21, 2016
On top of the aforementioned position, Mansour also held other prominent positions throughout the Taliban. Some of those positions are in the following list:
- Minister of civil aviation and transportation
- Taliban Governor of Kandahar
- Active recruiter
- Chief of military affairs in Nimruz and Helmand provinces
- Drug trafficker in Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces.
All in all, what are your thoughts on Mullah Akhtar Mansour and the U.S. strike against the Taliban? Do you think the Taliban and Afghan government will finally move into peace talks? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by Zeeshan Hussain/AP Images]