The US military may have killed Abdul Hasib, the Islamic State’s emir for Khorasan province, during the April 27 raid in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of two US Army Rangers.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said that Abdul Hasib was the target of the raid, and he may have been killed although his death has not been confirmed, Reuters reported. Davis estimated that 35 Islamic State fighters were killed during the fighting, which lasted for more than three hours after US and Afghan troops assaulted what Reuters described as “a heavily fortified compound and tunnel system.”
If Hasib’s death is confirmed, he would be the second Khorasan province emir killed within the past year. In July 2016, the US killed Hafiz Saeed Khan, the group’s first leader, in an airstrike in Nangarhar.
Tragically, the two US Army Rangers may have been accidentally killed by US or Afghan forces during the initial assault.
“We are investigating the circumstances of the combat deaths of the two Army Rangers in the beginning of what was an intense three-hour firefight,” Davis said, according to Reuters. “It is possible these Rangers were struck by friendly fire.”
The US military has invested significant resources in battling the Islamic State in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the group controls areas in just four districts in Nangarhar. Over the past two weeks, the US military has lost three soldiers during combat and has dropped the largest non-nuclear weapon in the US arsenal during the fighting in Nangarhar. By comparison, the Taliban controls or contests 211 districts in Afghanistan, and continues to harbor al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.
For more information on the Islamic State’s Khorasan province, see 2 American service members killed fighting Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.