International forces in Afghanistan say a coalition airstrike has killed a senior Haqqani network leader near the Pakistani border. NATO says the militant was key in facilitating extremist violence in the country.
Dilawar - who went by one name - was said to be a key leader of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, which has staged deadly attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. NATO says a precision airstrike Tuesday killed Dilawar and two of his associates in the eastern Afghan province of Khost.
Lieutenant Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said, “The death of Dilawar marks another significant milestone in the disruption of the Haqqani network in Afghanistan.”
Dilawar's death comes exactly one week after the capture of Haji Mali Khan, a senior Haqqani leader. The coalition says Dilawar was a principal subordinate to Khan and was instrumental in planning attacks, including an ambush on Afghan troops in eastern Paktiya province last month.
“Dilawar operated along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, between the Khost and Paktiya provinces, where he actively coordinated numerous attacks against Afghan forces and facilitated the movement of weapons," said Cummings. "Dilawar also facilitated the movement of foreign fighters, and was associated with both al-Qaida and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan."
The United States and Afghanistan blame the Haqqani network for numerous attacks, including a nearly day-long assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last month. The militant group enjoys a safe haven in Pakistan, and senior U.S. and Afghan leaders allege it receives significant tactical and material support from the Pakistani military spy agency, the ISI. Pakistan rejects the charge.