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U.S. Drone Strikes Target Top Al-Qaeda Leaders In Afghanistan

Map - Afghanistan
Map - Afghanistan

The United States has targeted two of Al-Qaeda's most senior leaders in Afghanistan in drone strikes in remote areas of Kunar Province, the Pentagon has said.

While the U.S. military is still assessing the results of the weekend strikes, AFP reported that Pentagon officials privately believe they were successful in killing the operatives.

AFP also reported witnesses in Kunar saying 15 insurgents were killed in the strikes, including two Arabs and a number of Pakistani Taliban fighters.

One of the targets was Faruq al-Qatani, a Qatari national who is Al-Qaeda's leader for northeastern Afghanistan and who was assigned to reestablish safe havens in the country, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

The other, Bilal al-Utabi, also was involved in reestablishing safe havens from which the militants could threaten the West while recruiting and training foreign fighters, he said.

"If these strikes are determined to be successful, eliminating these core leaders of Al-Qaeda will disrupt efforts to plot against the United States and our allies and partners around the world, reduce the threat to our Afghan partners, and assist their efforts to deny Al-Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan," Cook said.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP