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Taliban Claims It Was 'Unaware' Zawahri Was In Afghanistan, Launches Investigation

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a drone strike on July 31.

The Taliban says it is investigating “claims” that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul and said it had no information about him "entering and living" in the Afghan capital.

"The government and the leadership wasn’t aware of what is being claimed, nor any trace there [of Zawahri]," Suhail Shaheen, the designated Taliban representative to the United Nations, who is based in Doha, said in a statement.

The statement marked the first time the militants have directly referred to the drone strike that killed Zawahri on July 31 on the balcony of a Kabul safe house that U.S. officials said was linked to a Taliban leader.

Zawahri's killing was the biggest blow to Al-Qaeda since U.S. Navy SEALs shot dead Osama bin Laden in 2011.

"An investigation is under way now to find out about the veracity of the claim," Shaheen's statement said, adding that the results would be shared publicly.

The Taliban went on to threaten that "if such incidents are repeated again, and if the territory of Afghanistan is violated, then responsibility for any consequences will be on the United States."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban had "grossly violated" the agreement by hosting and sheltering Zawahri.

The radical group had assured the United States as part of a 2020 agreement on the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces that they would not harbor other militant groups.

The statement said the Taliban was committed to the agreement, signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, and reiterated that there was "no threat" to any country from Afghanistan's territory.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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