U.S. Targets Taliban Leader Mullah Mansour In Airstrike

Saturday, May 21st 2016, 9:12 pm
By: News On 6

The U.S. conducted an airstrike targeting Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour Saturday in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Pentagon said.

The military was still assessing the results of the strike, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. But a U.S. official tells CBS News that Mansour was likely dead.

In the statement, Cook said that Mansour has been "actively involved with planning attacks against facilities in Kabul and across Afghanistan, presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and security forces, our personnel, and Coalition partners. [Mansour] has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government that could lead to an end to the conflict."

The strike, carried out by a multiple drones operated by the U.S. Special Operations Forces, targeted a vehicle carrying Mansour and another male passenger, also believed to be likely killed, southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal, the official said.

President Obama authorized the strike, added the official.

Mansour was chosen to take the helm of the Afghan Taliban last summer after the death several years earlier of the organization's founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, became public. Mullah Omar's longtime deputy, Mansour had actually been the Taliban's de facto leader for years, according to the Afghan government.

His formal ascension was divisive in the Taliban, handing him the challenge of uniting a fractured - but still lethal - insurgency that has seen fighters desert for more extreme groups such as the Islamic State.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan according to a harsh interpretation of Islamic law until the group was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.