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Top Taliban leader killed in US-led airstrikes in Afghanistan
Posted on: 03-12-2018 , 09:54:AM | DY365 Bureau

 picture courtesy: Wall Street Journal

 December 3, 2018: A key Taliban leader was killed in airstrikes led by US forces in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, officials and Taliban confirmed on Sunday. 

Abdul Hanan, who was in-charge of Helmand for Taliban, was killed along with 29 other militants by airstrikes on Saturday, Helmand provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said, as reported by news agency Reuters. Hanan was the 'shadow governor' for the insurgent group.

Taliban called Hanan's death a ''big loss'' but insisted that it would not affect their operations, according to the news agency AFP. Confirming the Taliban leader's death, US military said that Afghan forces had gone on to the offensive with US military support in order to push the terror organisation to talks. 

"The Taliban should consider intensifying peace talks, not the fight. They're going to have trouble intensifying the fight when their fighters and leaders are under constant assault," Col. Dave Butler, spokesperson of US forces, said in a statement.

Manan led the insurgent group to gain control of Helmand, an opium-rich province, and his death is seen by Afghan officials as a big success. He was also on the blacklist issued by Riyadh-based Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), which imposed financial sanctions, along with five other Taliban members.

The incident has come at a time when Afghanistan and Western-backed security forces are pushing to end this 17-year war. US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad recently concluded his meet with Taliban representatives and expressed hopes that a peace deal could be finalised before Afghan elections in April 2019. 

Despite the peace talks, both Taliban and US forces have not slowed down fighting against each other.

At an international conference in Geneva, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani said that a nine-member team has been made to strike a peace deal with Taliban. But the group continued ignoring Ghani's efforts, calling the Afghan government ''impotent'', as reported by AFP.

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