By: Lailuma Noori
Afghanistan Ministry of Defense (MoD) says ANDSF will exert further pressure on Taliban fighters to cut their relations with al Qaeda terrorist network. This comes after a top al Qaeda leader was killed in a joint US-Afghan military operation.
Representatives of Taliban group in peace talks with US in Doha, capital city of Qatar, have assured they would cut their relations with al Qaeda terrorist network prior to reaching agreement with US.
Previously, Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement had confirmed that senior leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network has been killed in an operation in Helmand’s Mosa Qala district.
“Asem Omar, the head of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), died in a raid on a Taliban compound in Helmand province on 23 September”, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.
At least 40 civilians were reported to have been killed in the same operation. The US and al-Qaeda have not confirmed Omar’s death.
In a statement shared on Twitter on Tuesday, the NDS said the joint US-Afghan raid took place at a compound in the “Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala” district, where Omar and other AQIS members “had been embedded”.
It said six other AQIS members were also killed, “most” of whom were Pakistani. Abu Raihan, said to be Omar’s “courier” to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was named as one of those killed.
The NDS shared pictures purportedly showing Omar both alive and dead alongside the statement.
Further details of the operation and what happened to the bodies were not immediately clear.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson to the ministry of defense says killing of the al Qaeda leader has proven that Taliban still have links with the al Qaeda network.
“ANDSF will take increasing steps against Taliban fighters as recent incident has shown that the group still have link with al Qaeda terrorist network and their relations are very close,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, the MoD spokesperson.
He added that there was no difference between Taliban and al Qaeda, saying that the only difference between the two groups was that al Qaeda was an international terrorist network, while Taliban’s activity was limited only in Afghanistan.
US and Afghan defense and security forces are fighting both groups in the country as Afghanistan is considered as a proper place for terrorist groups. Experiences have proven during the past history that the country has been as lab for foreign fighters and witnessed difficult and bitter experiences. Besides, the country has experienced unpleasant presence of international terrorists in the past one decade.
Currently, increasing air strikes have undoubtedly inflicted heavy losses to the Taliban in various parts of the country in particular Helmand and some northern provinces where financial resources, training centers and supportive networks of the Taliban have been targeted.
Based on reports, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has developed terrorist training centers in Helmand since 2015. Some reports have confirmed that al Qaeda terrorist network is also active in Ghazni province.