An American airstrike against ISIS in northern Afghanistan has killed the group’s leader in the country. The airstrike was a joint operation between American Special Operations troops and Afghan Special Security Forces and said it was the latest in a series of successful efforts to kill Islamic State leaders
The American side said in a news release that the strike in Faryab Province had killed Qari Hekmatullah and his bodyguard last week. Hekmatullah was a key commander of the Islamic State in Khorasan, or IS-K, as the Afghan and Pakistani branch of the Islamic State is known.
Hekmatullah, an ethnic Uzbek, was a fearsome presence in Jowzjan, a predominantly Uzbek region. As a former Taliban commander in his area, the district of Darzab, he became notorious for such extreme savagery that the Taliban expelled him from the organization, and he joined the Islamic State. Previously, he had also been a leader of the extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The killing of Hekmatullah has led to immediate infighting among rival factions of insurgents, who disagreed on whom his successor should be, Afghan government officials in the area said.