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Senior Afghan Taliban Commander Killed In Air Strike


Mullah Manan commanded Taliban fighters as they steadily increased their control over Helmand in the years following the end of most international combat missions in 2014. FILE: A U.S. Marine being shot at in Helmand.

A top commander of the Afghan Taliban has been killed in the southern province of Helmand.

Provincial Governor Mohammad Yasin Khan told RFE/RL that Mullah Abdulmanan was killed along with four other militants in an air strike in the Nawzad district on December 1.

Mullah Abdulmanan was in charge of Helmand Province for the militants group.

His death was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid and by the U.S. military.

"They're going to have trouble intensifying the fight when their fighters and leaders are under constant assault,” Colonel Dave Butler, spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, said in an e-mailed statement.

Talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan are “the only solution," Butler added.

Mullah Abdulmanan "was the most senior Taliban commander in the south and his death will have an overall impact on security," a senior security official in Kabul was quoted as saying.

Taliban fighters increased their control over Helmand Province in the years following the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops in 2014.

Last month, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with the Taliban in Qatar as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump stepped up efforts to settle the Afghan conflict.

The militants have long refused U.S. demands to directly negotiate with the Western-backed government in Kabul, which has struggled to counter attacks from the militant group since 2014.

With reporting by Reuters

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