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Pentagon: US forces kill ISIS leader in Afghanistan

July 14, 2017 (Photo Credit: Capt. Brian Harris, Army via AP)
U.S. forces on July 11 killed ISIS leader Abu Sayed in a strike on the group’s headquarters in Kunar province, Afghanistan, according to Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman.

Sayed was selected as the leader of ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, after U.S. forces killed Hafiz Sayed Khan last July and Abdul Hasib in April. 

Sayed is the third ISIS-K leader killed in the last 12 months by U.S. forces. Four other ISIS-K members were also killed in the strike, according the White. 

There are an estimated 1,000 ISIS fighters still fighting in Afghanistan, according to Navy Capt. William Salvin, a spokesman for the Resolute Support mission.

ISIS fighters in Afghanistan have come under increasing pressure by U.S. and Afghan forces since a counter-ISIS-K offensive was launched in March.

In April, the U.S. dropped its largest conventional bomb, dubbed “the Mother of All Bombs,” on a large cave complex housing ISIS fighters in Nangarhar province.

However, the group has shown resiliency. In June, ISIS-K launched an offensive in Osama Bin Laden’s former stronghold of Tora Bora, capturing several cave complexes. Afghan forces have launched operations to clear the terror group from the region.

The death of the ISIS leader comes as the Trump administration wrestles with a decision on whether to increase U.S. troop numbers in America’s longest war.

While the White House has not made any announcements, the U.S. is still expected to increase troop numbers by nearly 4,000 despite an alternative plan, first reported by the New York Times, floated by White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, to use contractors instead of U.S. troops, according to an Afghan defense official.

The contractor plan has not officially been presented to the Afghan government and would likely be rejected, the Afghan defense official told Military Times.

The U.S. currently has about 8,400 troops serving in the train and advise mission known as Resolute Support, and another 1,500 troops in Operation Freedom's Sentinel, the counter-terror mission.

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