KABUL: A US drone strike intended to eliminate a splinter commander of the Taliban militant group in western Afghanistan has killed at least 60 civilians who were nearby.
A gubernatorial spokesman in Herat, Jailani Farhad, said that Mullah Nangialai was killed in Shindand district of Herat province near border with Iran, according to an Al Jazeera report.
The NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said the alliance launched a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces with involvement of US forces.
A senior provincial police source said the airstrike had been carried out by an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Afghanistan.
Nangialai separated from the main branch of the Taliban a few years ago to join a smaller breakaway faction after the death of Mullah Omar in 2013.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.
Some 18 years on, Washington is seeking a truce with the militants, who now control or have influence in about half of Afghanistan’s territory. The Taliban have rejected calls for a ceasefire and instead stepped up operations across the country over the past few months.
The main Taliban group has been negotiating with the Trump administration for more than a year over the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for security guarantees from the militants.
Nearly 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of a mission to purportedly train, assist, and advise Afghan security forces.
The development comes barely a week after the US also killed the Iranian Quds commander, General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.